The users of Entebbe Highway cannot believe the new development that will see Government Ministries accommodated in what has previously been J & M Bwebajja Hotel when the Highway for the stretch between Zana and Entebbe has not been upgraded to a dual carriage way or good effort made to improve alternative routes that can be used by motorists instead of Entebbe Highway.
The Government of Uganda in September 2016 around EID Adha Celebrations announced its wish to buy J & M Bwebajja Hotel to accommodate Government ministries.
Ugandans were taken by surprise Monday, January 15, 2018 to learn that Government Ministries were to be accommodated at the Hotel.
One feature of the Hotel is that part of it is in the Entebbe Highway road reserve. The development is at the time before the whole of Entebbe Highway is made a dual carriage way.
The Hotel first made news when some workers were buried during the construction. This was followed by the death of its alleged owner after a Parliament Committee (PAC) quizzed him on CHOGM monies.
J & M Bwebajja Hotel had been up for Auction and the date for Auction had been set. Barclays Bank had instructed Quickway Auctioneers and Court Bailiffs to auction J & M Hotel to recover a loan amounting to more than Shs 4.7bn.
A notice published on July 4, 2016 indicated that the property, sitting on approximately 30.5 acres would be auctioned to the highest bidder on August 5, 2016.
The facility belonged to the Late Joseph Behakanira who secured the loan in 2005.
Late Joseph Behakanira
The property which could have been sold more than 5 years back, was temporary saved from auction when a Chinese businessman slapped a caveat on it claiming that the owners owed him $9.5m (more than Shs 31bn) in materials supplied to erect the facility.
Rahul Modi, the proprietor of Hong Kong based Five Line Trading Company, said at the time that he supplied building materials including glass blocks, Polly carbonate sheets, furniture, tiles, laundry machines, swimming pool items and locks, decoration, lighting as well as rail fittings worth $12 million (Shs 40bn) but only a quarter of it was paid.
Rahul claimed that Behakanira approached him in 2006 to ship the assorted items to enable him complete his hotel in time for the planned November 2007 Commonwealth Head of Government meeting in Kampala.
Behakanira, the principle signatory to the contract died suddenly in 2010 shortly after the Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) grilled him on the $1.3m (Shs 4.36bn) cash he got from the Government to prepare 200 rooms to accommodate CHOGM guests at the hotel, only three days to the Summit!
Behakanira who died shortly after meeting PAC.
Part of President Museveni's letter to Hon. Tumwebaze dated November 5, 2012 said, "The widow of the Late Behakanira has appealed to me to buy their hotel at Bwebajja so that Government can use the properties they have built there and turn them into Government offices, a University, a hospital or whatever else we may want to utilize them for."
Late Behakanira and wife.
Uganda Government spends Shs 100bn per annum on rent.
The Late Joseph Behakanira was also proprietor of Avemar Shopping Arcade in Kampala.
Avemar Shopping Arcade
Joseph Behakanira died a day after being interrogated by PAC investigating CHOGM fraud allegations.
He was accused of illegally misusing CHOGM money in 2007 at a tune of $1.3m.
President Museveni and ministers on the cabinet Sub - committee on CHOGM were accused of releasing $1.3m of tax payers' money to J & M Hotel three days to CHOGM.
President Museveni and his ministers on Cabinet Sub - Committee on CHOGM directed that the money be given to J & M Hotel well knowing that this facility was not even part of the CHOGM Hotels.
President Museveni receives the Queen for CHOGM in 2007
Surprisingly, I had opportunity to get someone who works at J & M Hotel who told us that following the death of Joseph Behakanira, the wife was completely ignorant of what was stocked as assortment of items believed to have been imported prior to CHOGM and are believed to have had a tax waver. It is possible that these items were eventually offloaded on to the open market in Uganda.
This article has benefited from a number of sources in an attempt to give an insight into a hotel turned accommodation for Government Ministry offices.
Traffic Jam on Entebbe Highway pictorial