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Government talks tough over industrial park land

Investors who seek to rely on government as a guarantor to shore up funds for their projects will not receive such backing, state minister for investment Evelyn Anite has said.

Government will also not give extensions to projects that have not taken off within the stipulated period agreed by Uganda Investment Authority (UIA).

Responding to investors’ issues during a meeting at Namanve industrial park on Wednesday, Anite stressed that all land that will not be developed in line with the UIA regulations will be withdrawn and given to other investors.

“We scrapped for you the fee that was meant for accessing land at the industrial park, which was a good move welcomed by all of you. But government cannot go and stand security for you in banks. This is a policy issue,” Anite said.

Namanve industrial park

Investors had raised a number of concerns that they felt needed government intervention. They complained of allocation of land to two or more different parties, inability to access land that has already been allocated and cases of land grabbing and harassment, among others.

A particular case in point was raised where investors accused a senior UPDF army officer of grabbing their land.

“Madam, we do appreciate government efforts to encourage industrial development in the country. However, we want to bring to your attention that when we went to open up our boundary, we were chased and harassed by armed security guards who stopped us from accessing our land. We understand that the land has been taken over by an army general,” said one official from Aqua Coolers Ltd.

Anite, however, assured the investors that no one is above the law and the issue will be investigated. “There is no general who is not touchable. We shall touch them and [reclaim] the land from them. Connections can’t build for us factories….it is the money,” the minister said amid applause from the investors.

Jolly Kaguhangire, the executive director of the Uganda Investment Authority, said their aim is to ensure that Uganda is able to achieve the goal of industrialization and become less dependent on imports. UIA is developing three industrial and business parks in the greater Kampala metropolitan area.

They are Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP) Namanve astride Wakiso and Mukono districts, Luzira Industrial and Business Park and Bweyogerere Industrial estate in Wakiso.

Reports from UIA indicate that the number of investors currently operating in these parks has gone up to 22, from 18 in 2016.

Ten investors were withdrawn from the industrial park for non-compliance to lease terms. Some of them include: MK Publishers, Oscar Industries, and Multiple Haullers and Associated Freight. Some petitioned courts of law but lost their cases to UIA. It also shows that 85 investors are currently in advanced stages of construction and are set to open this year.

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