Revealed! Inside CAA struggles to crush land grabbers

CAA head offices, Entebbe

BY VENENSCIAS KIIZA

A few days ago, we revealed how some bad intentioned Ugandans attempted to block the appointment of Fred K Bamwesigye as the substantive director general of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) by embarking on a smear campaign against him and other two officials—Eng. Sooma Ayub (UCAA Director Airports Aviation & Security) and Samuel Wonekha (UCAA General Manager Regional Airports). The operation was being led by UCAA former Director Human Resource and Administration, Pascal Jabbe Osinde, whose services were terminated following a court order.

Jabbe wrote to President Museveni a seven- page letter, detailing why Bamwesigye&Co were not fit for UCAA top jobs. Luckily, the letter reached its intended recipient.

Jabbe hoped that Bamwesigye, Wonekha and Sooma would be sacked there and then because he made a lot of allegations and the president was moved—they were true to be believed.

He recommended: “Set up an inquiry into the mismanagement and corruption in UCAA: Suspend and investigate the following; Fred Bamwesigye; Eng Ayub Sooma and Samuel Wonekha….”

Jabbe (who even attached his colorful CV) implored the president to help him go back to help in a clean-up at UCAA, or deploy him somewhere else in line with his qualifications in the transport and logistics sector. He wrote: “H.E, I am ready to participate in the clean-up of UCAA once reinstated into employment of UCAA, fight corruption and ensure UCAA is a credible state owned institution if you so deem fit, am also ready to serve my country in any other capacity in the transport and Logistics sector where I am a qualified. I am sharing my CV for information purposes. I look forward to our meeting with you and delivering the pictures and briefs on Odoi Chwalle and my late dad Emmanuel Opoya Osudo. I submit.”

Being the Museveni we have come to know who doesn’t act in hurry, because so and do has said so, Bamwesigye& Co were asked to respond to the allegations which they did in a letter dated August 5th, 2021 and seen by Pepper Digital. All the allegations, or lies were debunked and it turned out that Jabbe and his backers had waged a vendetta against Bamwesigye& Co after the latter lost his UCAA HR job(which he attributes to the three) and that’s how Bamwesigye went on to be confirmed as UCAA boss.

In our recent stories we focused on allegations in regard to Jabbe and some ex UCAA staff sacking which was attributed to Bamwesigye &Co; alleged
Security gaps at Entebbe Airport; Fuel theft and wildlife trafficking; proposed organization restructuring; and alleged ‘grand corruption’ in implementation of capital grant projects (Entebbe Airport expansion project, Extension of Passenger terminal building, the Search Park, and Karibuni project).

LAND GRAB ALLEGATIONS

In this final part we discern truth from lies about Jabbe’s allegations in regard to land grabbing at Entebbe and regional airports.

He first alleges that there is a scheme to steal UCAA land by a dubious cultural group named Entebbe Za Magula aided by CAA officials where government is about to pay over UGX 450,000,000,000bn in compensation costs yet records show the government had paid for this during the colonial period. Jabbe also alleges that there are efforts to grab the 35 acres of land at Kisenyi and all efforts to have this land titled and fenced off have been thwarted by some CAA officials who allegedly have a personal interest in the land.

He also talks about unabated rampant grabbing and selling of UCAA land in regional Airports and aerodromes like Masindi, Arua, Gulu, Moroto, Tororo, Soroti, Jinja, Kisoro, Mbarara, Kasese and Lira. He says the land grabbers are about to steal runways and in Soroti CAA has lost an institutional Staff house to a serving staff who was a tenant but reportedly colluded with some CAA and Uganda Land Commission officials to grab this house. He also talks of compensation for extra land acquired which he says has been riddled with corruption with some PAPS not paid to date because they refused to cooperate in over-stating values of land or refused to pay kickbacks.

BAMUGEMEREIRE ON SPOT

Pepper Digital understands that on 2nd January, 2018, CAA wrote a comprehensive report to Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s Land Inquiry Commission, inviting her to come to their rescue in regard to the Authority’s land matters. It goes unmentioned that she did not do anything.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ENTEBBE & KASENYI LAND

Back to the allegations. Bamwesigye feels insulted that he is in the scheme to get hefty compensation from the government yet it is because of his thick-skin on this matter that UCAA will emerge victorious. He has even since been dragged to police over the same and slapped with criminal trespass charges on top of the matter earning him bad blood and hatred. He also makes it clear that the people behind these land claims are not ordinary Ugandans but well connected. “This allegation is frustrating and painful. If anything has taken my time, commitment in my entire life, it has been safeguarding UCAA land…,” Bamwesigye asserts.
He says UCAA has made use of all possible avenues to ensure that physical possession of the land is not compromised. Bamwesigye&Co clarifies that indeed there were claims by a cultural group, Mmamba Kakoboza Ssiga Lya Mugula on UCAA land at Entebbe International Airport. Earlier on, the Government allocated Plot M121 located near the airport and measuring 132 Hectares/362.17 acres to UCAA for expansion of aviation facilities. On November 22, 2001, Uganda Land Commission approved the lease that led to conferment of title to UCAA in October 2003 for a lease period of 99 years. The land was previously used by Ministry of Agriculture, Animal
Industry and Fisheries, and it comprises the site for the current Entebbe Airport Expansion Project.
The cultural group sought to reclaim a significant portion of the land arguing that they had customary interest. They asserted that during the construction of the Airport, the colonial regime compulsorily took over the said land without compensating them. They filed a High Court Civil Suit No. 595 of 2016 over alleged deprivation of land by the UCAA and the Uganda Land Commission (ULC). In January 2017, the Plaintiff withdrew the first suit and filed Civil Suit No. 033 of 2017, claiming customary ownership of part of the land measuring 68.113 acres of land that was allocated to the Authority.
When senior officials were summoned to the Land Commission of inquiry on allegation of unlawful acquisition and eviction of the purported owners of the land, the Authority wrote to the Uganda Land Commission in February 2019 notifying them of the civil suit and requested them to
handle the claimants’ matter. “UCAA was allocated land by Uganda Land Commission so there is no way that UCAA would compensate/pay any body for land vested to her by another Agency. In any case, UCAA does not have capacity to pay the 450 billion shillings mentioned in the wild allegation, given the current responsibilities for safety, security and now COVID-19 compliance in aviation.”

Bamwesigye& Co also clarifies that the land at Kasenyi was encroached on way back before he joined UCAA and the rest were juniors. Nevertheless, when he came in, all encroachers (now in court claiming some 15 hectares) were chased away and the army were requested to deploy and put a detach there given its strategic significance on aviation activities. This land hosts the receiving stations for communication transmitters for air navigation services both for High and Very High Frequency (HF and VHF) Radios which are crucial for safety operations of EIA. The matter is in court and UCAA is optimistic it will be resolved in its favor.

REGIONAL AIRPORTS

Apart from some isolated cases, Bamwesigye&Co assures that the bulk of the Authority’s land at Regional Airports is secure following an exercise undertaken for boundary opening and cadastral surveys. While there are some challenges in Lira, most of the land elsewhere is fenced. Local authorities in Lira encroached on Lira Airfield land prior to 2005. By that time Bamwesigye&Co had not even joined UCAA. It has also been revealed that in the recent past, the District Authority graded a road in close proximity to the runway, which the Authority stopped in liaison with the Resident District Commissioner. In
Collaboration with local leaders in Lira, UCAA also agreed to relocate the facility to a new site at Anai, in Erute County where land was earmarked by the Government for an airport development for Lango sub-region. The current site was to be used for construction of a modern stadium in Lira town, now City. The current Lira Aerodrome is only 1200 meters long and 30 meters wide, which is so limited to the extent that only light aircraft are allowed to operate. There are obstructions, including high rise buildings on either approach to the runway. The proposed alternative land at Anai stretches over 4 kilometers and has a width of about 1 Kilometer, which is ideal for airport developments. We are, however, still owning Lira Airfield in its current state until it is decommissioned for other land use.

EXTRA LAND ACQUISITION

In line with the Government’s plan to upgrade aerodromes at Kasese, Gulu, Arua and Tororo, UCAA also reportedly undertook some studies that revealed the need for additional land to be acquired for the developments. The Authority is said to have hired survey consultants who worked with local authorities and the Chief Government Valuer to determine compensation packages, and the compensations were effected. 100% of affected persons were compensated in Gulu, and 99% in Kasese where one person objected to the values. A section of the compensated people came up after 7 years and claimed that the values were low. The Chief Government valuer declined to review the already effected compensations and the matter is in the High Court in Fort portal. In Arua, 97% were compensated and in Tororo, compensation is approximately 98% complete. At Arua and Tororo aerodromes, the few pending cases are being reviewed and once finalized, the Government will be advised to effect payments. The reviews involve multiple stakeholders, such as the Chief Government Valuer, Administrator General, Local leaders and other land management authorities. In regard to UCAA Arua master plan land, the estate of the former president Adi Amin will be affected and UCAA has since implored the president to find some time and to talk to his family members for a solution.

REGIONAL AERODROMES
In relation to land allocations, Bamwesigye&Co also makes it clear that the Authority follows prescribed procedures and policy to allocate land to aviation related government service providers and private sector actors on a concessionary arrangement. Such allocations, include land allocated to Uganda Peoples Defense Air Force at Soroti for establishment of a military Airbase, land to Uganda Police Air wing (UPF) for the establishment of a maintenance hangar for their fleet of helicopters at Jinja Aerodrome, and land to Vine Air, a flying academy at Jinja Aerodrome for establishment of a training facility. There was also a temporary allocation of land to Dalbit to set up aviation fuel depots at Gulu and Arua during the time the World Food Program was airlifting humanitarian supplies to South Sudan. Government also reportedly entered into a memorandum of understanding with
BASE 7 International who are still going through the certification process for setting up an Aviation Training organization and Aircraft Maintenance facility at Mbarara Aerodrome. UCAA will also benefit in form of land premiums, annual rent, and a concession fee on the business returns. Bamwesigye & Co finds nonsense in Jabbe’s allegations that “anybody was bribed to make land allocation to sister government agencies and private sectors”. It has further been clarified that land allocation is aimed at carrying out aviation related activities in a complimentary manner.

HOUSE ALLOCATION

Bamwesigye&Co clarifies that around 2001 when none of them were at UCAA, the ministry of works received information about the divestiture of non-core institutional houses previously under the EAC and allocated to UCAA, EACAA and Meteorology department now UNMA in Soroti. That was when one of UCAA staff-livingstone Waisswa was reportedly offered an option to buy one of the houses by the Uganda Land Commission as a seating tenant, something that was seen as fraudulent. “The staff was taken through a disciplinary process and was not found culpable of any wrongdoing because we checked and discovered that the said house was not one of those divested in CAA at its inception on the 15th February 1991,” Bamwesigye& Co elaborates before revealing that actually there is a plan to repossess all divested institutional houses shared by EACAA and UNMA staff with help ULC officials. “The allegations of aiding the grabbing of the house and protecting the staff are again not true. In any case Jabbe was himself in charge of this activity and knows too well these facts.”

Bamwesigye&Co concludes advising the president to always be careful with the likes of Jabbe who run to him over personal vendetta, hell bent on tarnishing peoples’ images, frustrating good intentioned projects and as well hampering efforts to fulfill NRM manifesto targets.

“It is high time that unscrupulous individuals like Pascal Jabbe and the likes who author lies are made to account. These kinds of lies not only undermine the well-earned integrity of the individuals but in most cases slows down the implementation of government programs and policies to the extent that agreed on actions in the NRM manifesto are not achieved.”

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