Sarah Kizito, the proprietor of Nalongo Estates, which owns restaurants under a lease agreement with KCCA, told The Sunrise that: “I have written to KCCA to allow me re-erect the wall fence there but they have refused. Every morning we have to remove feaces from there. Whoever we chase away abuses us. Thugs are back. You find big crows smoking weed.” Kizito also owns Lady Charlotte Boutique and Saloon with-in the park.
In rejecting Kizito’s application to re-erect a wall fence there, KCCA said the area was planned as a public open space.
“The [Physical Planning] committee rejected the request noting also that the site is earmarked for the proposed JIICA flyover project. It was also noted that fencing the area was not acceptable as the area is a planned public open space,” said a letter signed by Atwine K. Moses, Ag Director Physical Planning, dated December 11, 2013.
KCCA in September 2012 razed structures at Centenary Park which had allegedly been illegally erected there, including a wall fence. This was to allow free public access to the park, previously cordoned off by Kizito and being used as gardens for functions including weddings.
KCCA and Nnalongo Estates are already battling in the High Court Commercial Division over ownership and management of the park. They return to court on April 4, 2014.
Kizito says her business of weddings and other functions has already collapsed due to the free access of Kampala’s destitute and thugs.
“With the fence there we were getting a different class of people. We pay for security but it is difficult to guard an open space. They still rob people,” Kizito says. “Almost every day I call the DPC Jinja Road to take away thugs. No one can book a wedding there anymore. We are not collecting any revenue there now.”
Dorah Kaitesi, who manages Nyama Choma Restaurant says about three months ago a thug entered in the garden of one of the restaurants and squeezed the neck of an unsuspecting customer. He made off with her Sumsung Gallaxy mobile phone.
“We have lost business,” Kaitesi says. “People now fear to park their cars here because the place is very open. Street kids and hawkers jut move in freely. This is disturbing.”
KCCA spokesperson Peter Kauju said KCCA would secure the place.
“We will have to take it up with the police and other security agencies so that we can secure the place,” Kauju said. “By the time we came in there was little of green parks left. It is our duty to secure some of those places so that people can enjoy some leisure time there.”
He said the authority has had challenges with street kids but the council was determined to secure the city.