4.5Bn Needed to Compensate Mbale Industrial Park Tenants

Government is seeking 4.5 billion shillings to compensate tenants who are currently occupying land earmarked for establishment of the Industrial Park in Mbale.

Dr James Mutende, the State Minister for Trade, said the 301 tenants occupying the 618 acres of land in Musoto village, located six kilometers south of Mbale town are ready for compensation. He says government is already processing the money for this exercise which he says would kick off soon.

Dr Mutende said the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) is already on the ground and that they have surveyed the land and is in the process of demarcating it for.

He attributed the delay for the establishment of the Industrial Park in Mbale to a dispute between government and the Bugisu Cooperative Union over the ownership of the land in question.

He said the dispute dragged for long but was excited that recently government won the case.

BCU had filled a law suit claiming that the 618 acres of land on which the government intends to establish an industrial park, was illegally purchased.

The union had secured a caveat stopping any development on the land, which its management claim was sold by officials who were not mandated to transact business on behalf of the union.

However the High Court in Mbale last week ruled in favour of government.

Mutende insists that government lawfully purchased the land for the establishment of the industrial park from BCU in 2008 at 3.1 billion shillings. He called upon investors to utilize the land in question, which he said was well linked by road and railway and that the electricity could be easily accessed.

The minister says once completed, the industrial park is expected to create more than 3,500 jobs.

The beneficiaries have received the news with excitement. Michael Masayi, the LC1 chairperson of Musoto village, says they are ready for compensation but he is worried of how much each of them would get.

Masayi says that the compensation will enable them to transfer the bodies of their relatives buried on the land and will pay for the loss of their ancestral land.

According to a conceptual planning proposal for development of the Mbale industrial park presented to UIA, agro-processing is expected to take 187.5 acres, commercial 38.74 acres, ICT and consultancy 34.66 acres.

Others are manufacturing which will take 114.96 acres, Incubators 34.57, logistics and warehousing 112.01 acres, power reserve 19.38 acres while 77.18 was meant to be for major roads.

In 2009, government announced a decision to set up at least 22 industrial and business parks in different parts of the country to boost employment creation and help add value to the raw materials existing in the respective localities.

However, the plan has dragged to start in most of the areas over land issues.

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