Ugandans are bitter over Chairman of the Ruparelia Group, Sudhir Ruparelia’s acquisition of 900 acres of land on Block 158 at Namulonge.
According to Daily Monitor, Sudhir said three ministers approved one of his companies’ request to lease government land belonging to Namulonge National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCCRI), 30km northeast of Kampala.
The land was then granted lease to Sudhir’s Premier Roses, a flower firm with the hope of increasing export earnings from $30m then to $120m a year in 4 years and create 19,000 jobs.
Sudhir said state ministers of Agriculture and Investment, and the minister for Lands raised “a no objection” to his company, Premier Roses’ proposal to lease 900 acres.
Sudhir explained that Premier Roses on the contrary transparently followed due processes and had green light from not only President Museveni, but also three government ministries.
The mogul said the lands minister wrote to the Chairman of Uganda Land Commission asking them to evaluate and consider his proposal and in April 2014, the Uganda Land Commission approved a 5 year lease term, extendable to full form- but only granted them 900 acres.
“The subsequent media discussions have not fully looked into the process leading up to approval of our application- choosing to mainly focus on the presidential directive which was issued nearly after two years of extensive stakeholder engagements and scrutiny of our proposal,” Sudhir pointed out saying the project will boost floriculture & horticulture sectors.
Ugandans have not taken the development quite well as it looks like the idea of giving away public land to private investors is becoming a norm.
In 2007, riots rocked Kampala after Museveni moved to giveaway 7,100 hectares of Mabira forest to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda (SCOUL), which is owned by the Mehta family that originated from India.
In January 2015, it also emerged that Museveni had sold off Lake Victoria to private investors who would rear fish under cage fish farming.
This was followed by reports that the president also gave away Nakivubo stadium and other big stadiums in the country to private investors for re-development.
Now the Nmaulonge land is also being given away.
Andrew Irumba, founder of Pan-African Live Debate says although he remains a friend to one of Africa’s hardworking machines, Sudhir, “my Pan-Africanism tells me that the time to part ways is ripe for as long as he bent on nothing but destroy Namulonge for his personal activities to the detrimental of the rest of Ugandans, EA and Africa at large”.
“Be sure that an anthill is built by small insects known as red ants. Gadaffi [Col Muammar- Libyan leader] was King of Africa, ‘cockroaches’ ‘ate’ him for supper,” Irumba warned.
Sisimuka Uganda activist, Frank M. Gashumba, reminded Sudhir that Namulonge land belongs to all Ugandans.
“Personally, I see another face behind Sudhir, and this person behind Sudhir is an old man who usually puts on a Kikoofiila (a hat). You might use the law. You people think all Ugandans are fools, you are forgetting that everything Hitler did he was using the law in German. So everything these vampires are doing using the law. Everything that has been looted during the NRM regime, we shall bring it back and trust me history is going to be on our side.”
He continued: “It is plain mathematics that African rulers all over the continent while in power will connive with the parliament to put up laws that favour their selfish ends that is why the so called Sudhir says Ministers gave him that land.”