The nation has been grappling with issues of land grabbing for a long time now, and to some Members of Parliament, what happened in 2011 to Shimoni Demonstration School and the Teacher Training College for an investor to set up a five-star hotel on the land on which the school was located is still fresh on their minds. This is because the hotel construction was abandoned in favour of a shopping mall, which has also stalled. It gives the impression that there is little regard for education since the most affected public institutions are schools. There are several schools that are currently under threat, including Buganda Road Primary School, Nakasero Primary School, Natete Muslim Primary School, Muslim Girls Primary School among others. The most recent is Nabagereka Primary School found in Kampala.
On 4th of February 2015 Lwemiyaga MP, Hon. Theodore Ssekikubo, moved a motion in the House within which he stated that the fate of the young pupils is being sealed as they may not be able to trek the inevitable long distance in search of their inherent or constitutional right to education, hence drop out of school with no probable opportunity of ever getting back to school. Parliament resolved to set up a select committee to look into the circumstances under which the land whereupon Nabagereka Primary School was situated was seized by an investor.
The motion mover was asking for the following :
That Government suspends all allocations and takeovers of lands belonging to public schools, public health facilities and other Government installations.
That Government takes immediate steps to hold all development on land housing Nabagereka Primary School and suspend all plans approved on the said land.
That Parliament sets up a select committee to investigate the takeover of lands formerly belonging to public schools and make appropriate recommendation to Parliament.
Subsequently, a select committee was instituted on Thursday 19th March, 2015 to investigate the issues surrounding the ongoing takeover of land belonging to Nabagereka Primary School and other schools within Kampala city by purported investors. “I have established a Select Committee comprising of six Members to find out who is behind the land grabbing of Nabagereka Primary School,” the Rt. Hon Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga announced in the House.
The members of the committee selected were:
- Robert Migadde (Buvuma Islands, Buvuma),
- Kassiano Wadri (Terego County, Arua),
- Kabaale Olivia (Iganga),
- Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East, Kabale),
- Patrick Mulindwa (Kasambya County, Mubende) and
- Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municiality, Masaka).
The house set the terms of reference within which the committee was mandated to carry out investigations on behalf of the House. These were that the committee looks into:
- The circumstances surrounding the takeover of land formerly belonging to public schools in Kampala Capital City Authority specifically Nabagereka Primary School;
- Whether the takeover transaction was in accordance with the laid down laws and procedures;
- Whether appropriate mitigating measures were put in place to cater for the affected students and teachers; and
- Make appropriate recommendations to Parliament.
And report back to the House by 7th May 2015.
Whether the time is adequate for the committee to finalise by the set date, is another point of contention, but as of 31st March, the committee commenced its investigations, interfacing with the petitioners who included Hon Theodore Ssekikubo, Hon Ssewungu Joseph and Hon Kasibante Moses, who tasked the committee to look into several schools in Kampala.
On 1st April 2015, the Committee met the Management of Kampala Capital City Authority, to ascertain their involvement and commitment towards protection of school land. The Executive Director of KCCA informed the Committee that out of eighty (80) public schools in Kampala, KCCA only has exclusive control over five (5) schools and the rest of them are owned by either religious bodies or other government agencies. She promised to pull down the fence that was erected at the Nabagereka Primary School land before Easter, and that she had given a directive effectively.
The current land policy of Kampala Capital City Authority allows for mixed land use where there could be a school located near a discotheque or hospital. However, for the sake of the 1443 pupils and 23 teachers affected by the demolition of Nabagereka Primary School by one investor, the petitioners besought the committee to look into the restoration of the school.
There are more witnesses the committee has scheduled to meet after the Easter break before the committee can conclude on its investigations. For example the Uganda Land Commission which is known to have actively participated in the awarding of the Nakasero Primary School land to Prestige Apartments. The committee’s findings will e very helpful and will hopefully set a trend that will put an end to investors taking education facilities for granted.