Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) has agreed to pay Shs 600 million for 3.2 acres of land to an encroacher on land belonging to the government body, the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) in Mbarara, an audit report has found.
At least Shs 360m has already been paid. The payment was largely compensation for the encroacher to give way for the construction of the 14-kilometre Mbarara Northern bypass jointly funded by the European Union and government.
The auditor general’s report on government and statutory bodies for the 2015/2016 financial year found that the land in question was to be used by the Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Institute, Naro’s research arm.
“A review of the management reports revealed that Unra surveyed 22.7 acres and 3.2 acres for the road construction,” the report says.
“However, the 3.2 acres, which also belong to the institute, were surveyed in the names of an individual who was an encroacher,” the audit adds.
“Unra well knowing that the land in question belongs to Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Institute instead planned to compensate the individual with Shs 600m out of which Shs 360m was paid,” the report reads further.
The 22.7 acres, which were surveyed to belong to Naro, have not been paid for to-date. Revelations of money in the roads sector being paid to wrong people are not new. It was a subject of a commission of inquiry in 2015, whose report found that taxpayers lost at least Shs 4tn from 2008 when Unra was formed to 2014.
But what these new revelations show is that the country could have lost much more money than was captured by the inquiry. The audit did not mention the individual but found the claimant had encroached on the piece of the institute land in 1999 and that “the matter went to court and the judgment was made in favour of the institute although the claimant refused to vacate the land and continued to erect permanent structures on the said land.”
He quoted each acre of land at Shs 188m, the amount the audit says was way above the value in that area. The land had no developments to warrant that money, the audit says.
“There was no valuation report from Unra about the land in question and the institute was not involved in the valuation exercise,” the report says.
“Analysis of the 3.2 acres compensation reveals that each acre was valued at Shs 187. 5m and yet Naro’s computation for the 22.670 acres which Unra has not settled would on average be valued at Shs 82.3m per acre. This is despite the fact that the two pieces of land in question are in the same location with no planned developments,” the audit says.
There seems to be a very huge variance between the two pieces of land in terms of valuation, which could cause under valuation on the Naro 22.67 acre land due for payment by Unra.
The attorney general asked government to undertake an investigation to ascertain the correct valuation of the land and recover land from the encroacher.