The government has set its sights on an estimated 100 acres of land, including the piece housing the controversial J&M Hotel in Bwebajja, Entebbe road.

The Observer has reliably learnt that President Museveni recently urged government to consider buying it to house some ministries.  But Mr Museveni also believes that buying the hotel would be a good thing as it would help a supporter of the National Resistance Movement, who owns the facility.

The Observer has seen a letter in which Museveni directs Presidency Minister Frank Tumwebaze, to follow up the matter with Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Attorney General Peter Nyombi and the ministries of Public Service and Finance. The president’s suggestion follows an appeal by Mary Goodra Behakanira, the widow of Joseph Behakanira, who owned the property.

“The widow of the late Behakanira has appealed to me to buy their hotel at Bwebajja so that government can use the properties they have built there to turn them into offices for government, a university, a hospital or whatever else we may want to utilize them for,” reads Museveni’s letter to Tumwebaze dated November 5, 2012.

The president believes this could be a good deal.

"If you take the mere question of the money the government spends on rent per annum, you will see the wisdom of slowly getting out of that trap. The government spends approximately Shs100bn per annum on rent. In five (5 years), this would amount to approximately Shs 500bn".

The president also believes that buying the land would be one way of helping Goodra Behakanira, whom he describes as "our supporter".

The president's letter is copied to the vice president, prime minister, third deputy prime minister, Finance minister and Attorney General. Mrs Behakanira admitted to The Observer that the property has been on sale for some time to help her clear bank loans left behind by her late husband, but she was non committal on whether she had urged the government to buy it.

Presidential Press Secretary Tamale Mirundi was unaware of the project when we contacted him yesterday. He instead referred us to Tumwebaze whose phones were unavailable by press time.


J&M Hotel came to prominence when it was first listed as one of the hotels lined up to host delegates for the 2007 Commonwealth summit.

Its proprietor, Joseph Behakanira, was controversially given Shs 2.4bn to complete 200 rooms, three days to the start of the summit. He died in 2010, a day after being grilled by Parliamentís Public Accounts Committee over the deal.

The Busiro South MP, Joseph Balikuddembe, in whose constituency the land is located, welcomed the idea of government acquiring the property, saying it would decongest the city. However, he said the process shouldn't be handled by political leaders but rather technical staff in the ministry of Lands.

Some of the government ministries and agencies now renting office space include the Judiciary, the ministries of Justice, Local Government, Gender, DPP, Uganda Road Fund and the DPP. Several of these bodies have complained of inadequate space and high rental costs in their 2012/2013 ministerial policy statements.

The ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs says in its statement:

"The Judiciary has no suitable headquarters for its operations. It rents nearly half of the court premises countrywide. Such reliance on the private sector (for rent) does not augur well with the level of integrity and independence expected of the Judiciary".

Parliament recently approved a request by the ministry to build a complex for the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) at a cost of Shs 55bn, to be provided in phases of Shs 10bn every year. Parliament also asked the government to give the Electoral Commission money to construct its own offices/stores.

"The commission headquarters continues to be housed in an unplanned and dilapidated structure. Similarly, the commission lacks its own storage facilities both at the headquarters and at the districts", the statement said.

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0 #31 Baale 2013-01-12 01:09
Buying land in our beloved Uganda is becoming difficult. Does that mean that if I want the LC1 to find land for me in the viullage they will contact President Museveni????
+1 #32 Jay 2013-01-12 03:28
I was going to comment on the Bwebajja Hotel issue but I never got past the above picture of Museveni and in particular, his eyes. I stared for a long time into those eyes and felt an odd sensation – there was something eerily out-of-this-wor ld about them.

They were dilated to reveal the pupils and rolled-up at an unnatural angle to stare obliquely at some non-descript object in the ceiling.

They say the eye is the window into one’s soul. If that’s true, then I have just had a glimpse at something truly diabolical.
0 #33 doctordre 2013-01-12 07:42
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Uganda does not belong to Ugandans, just to a few elite. If people are not careful there could be another Zimbabwe. Sad.

In a place like Ethiopia land belongs to the state (they have a state), in Uganda land belongs to Kings and politicians, not the state (We have no state, the only state organ that seems to be functional is the army). Have people forgotten about the French and Russian Revolutions?
0 #34 Suarez 2013-01-12 10:24
That hotel is a monstrosity, really ugly and will have to be torn down to build any other buildings, some earthworks are necessary also due to the slope,add the fact that it is virtually in the middle of Entebbe Road just kills the idea.

In terms of value for money it really is not an ideal location. The new bypass from Entebbe is now being built, why not use that opportunity to purchase a site close to it.
0 #35 kelem 2013-01-12 11:33
Paying him self huh !! Janet and museveni hotel
0 #36 ivan 2013-01-12 11:46
govt to buy a structure on a road reserve to save an NRM supporter . What happens then when its demolished for Ebb highway? Save another supportter*
0 #37 Sewa 2013-01-12 12:50
I wonder why they want to buy land when HE is busy dolling out land to investors, is there a govt agency lacking land?

If yes, let it acquire it and then show plan of its usage, I fear that land is far off from other govt offices
0 #38 Moses Okello 2013-01-12 23:24
J & M; Airport Road Hotel in Bwebajja was awarded $1.3 million by the Government of Uganda on the order of Museveni three days before the country hosted the CHOGAM, November 4, 2007.

On the order of Museveni, the then State Minister for Tourism, Sarapio Rukundo, on July 17, 2007, wrote to the finance Minister to asking to facilitate Joseph Behakanira with a loan of $1.3 million ( approximately Shs 3.5bn) to make final touches on the hotel, although it didn’t host a single guest.

Mr Bahakanira later died in unclear circumstance just after he appeared before PAC. The rest is in the fog and vapour air, no body can understand everything in totality. They just want to confirm that Ugandans are idiots and fools, it is the reason the can take everything told to them.
0 #39 FASHAHO KAZINDU 2013-01-13 20:23
who is Behekanira how many other buildings mall did he own how did he acquire that kind of wealth whwn was he discharged from the NRA operations he is one of the 16 originals did he get any support either to acquire land or build the failed project how much does he owe the govt now

was this a grant or a govt loan who are the listed shareholders in his company why did-he call this project J and M was it by coincidental were the funds which were advanced to him approved officially or was is it a na approach from a staunch supporter if you were to open any of the lids above you may get surprised to know the truth but be careful behekanira was a seasoned spy master but he died all of a sudden with out any warning similar to the russian spy who died in london take care

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