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Uganda Martyrs: Gov’t To Displace Namugongo Residents To Construct Hotels For Tourists

Pilgrims at Namugongo line up for holy water/Courtesy photo

Government plans to displace and compensate residents around the Namugongo Martyrs shrines to pave way for the construction of hotels to offer accommodation to tourists that visit Uganda martyrs shrines.

The revelation was made by Ignatius Mudimi, Deputy Chairperson, Parliament’s Budget Committee while receiving the report from Committee on Physical Infrastructure, on the supplementary request by the Ministry of Works for Shs3.488Bn, for the completion of critical works at Uganda Martyrs Catholic Shrine Namugongo.

“You are looking at this one, it is a small token, because Government has come up with a policy, they want to compensate all residents surrounding Namugongo to pave way for the construction of  hotels for the tourists. So it is much bigger, the money coming is so huge. They want to remove the facilities around the Catholic, Anglican and Muslim shrines, they want to build huge hotels, once tourists come, they reside there,” revealed Mudimi.

In the request for supplementary funding, Government highlighted that the funds are intended as a donation to the Namugongo Catholic shrine to facilitate the completion of presbytery that was at risk of collapse because of rain water that has continued to penetrate it since 2015 as well as complete the building to accommodate the Shrine’s offices and priests residence given that the priests current reside in the rented house a kilometer away from the shrine.

However, Robert Kasolo, Vice Chairperson Physical Infrastructure Committee raised concern on the lack of engineering estimates for the works to be undertaken by Roko Construction Company, as well as discrepancies in the cost of works with the Ministry of Works and Roko Construction Company’s bills of quantities capping the cost at Shs4.3bn inclusive of consultancy fee and VAT, while the supplementary of Ministry of Finance placed the funding requirement at Shs3.38Bn including consultancy fee and VAT.

The lawmakers like Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality) however argued that the money is being given out as a donation, which exempts the Catholic Church from following the public processes of costs quoted and engineering estimates.

“Government is making a contribution, Namugongo isn’t a public facility even if they exaggerated and said the cost is Shs2Trn, you have no right to say the way we see it is it Shs2bn and tell them to bring down the cost. This is a private facility, Government can make a contribution that they want to make, you can’t subject them to the public standard of procurement and engineering estimates because you have gone in to give a hand. Like any private facility, you aren’t going into a joint venture with Namugongo, you are only giving a hand,” he said.

Agnes Apea (Amolatar DWR) wondered why all the funding to Namugongo martyrs shrines have been benefiting the catholic side alone, yet there are other religious denominations running facilities at the tourist site.

She argued, “There is a protestant side and there is also a Muslim side, how come every years, there is an impression that it is only the catholic shrines only that needs rehabilitation or construction?”

Mudimi however fired back stating that the Anglican shrine has been the biggest beneficiary of Government’s funding in Namugongo martyrs shrine.

Elijah Mushemeza (Sheema South) backed the donation by Government in Namugongo stating that it will help spur tourism in Uganda remarking, “We have been looking at tourism as one of the investment return areas, and this Namugongo facility is one such a facility that can bring money to the economy very fast. So when there is a window like this, we need to support it because government has been reluctant, you see it in theory, but when a window like this comes, I am comfortable with it.”

In the same supplementary schedule, the Ministry of Gender is also seeking for Shs2.590Bn for the rehabilitation of Gadafi Mosque in Old Kampala.

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