Posts tagged as: property

Why 2017/18 Fiscal Year Will Be Tough for TRA

Dar es Salaam — The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) will be under intense pressure in the current financial year as it seeks to collect an amplified amount in tax revenue against a backdrop of missed targets in 2016/17.

The taxman collected a total of Sh14.4 trillion during the 2016/17 financial year.

Much as the money was 7.67 per cent higher than the Sh13.3 trillion which was garnered during the preceding year, it still fell short of the year’s collection target, TRA data show.

A total of Sh15.1 trillion was meant to be collected as tax revenue to partly finance the government’s Sh29.5 trillion-budget for the financial year 2016/17.

With funds from development partners becoming increasingly unpredictable, execution of some development projects suffered.

Presenting a report on the national economic survey for 2016 and the national development plan for the financial year 2017/17 in Parliament in June this year, the minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Phillip Mpango said while the government planned to spend Sh11.8 trillion on development projects in 2016/17, it managed to raise only Sh4.5 trillion as of April 2017 for that purpose. The poor performance, he said was attributed to delays in securing loans and grants due to prolonged negotiations with development partners and commercial institutions.

“Besides, interest rates rose during the period, forcing the government to defer borrowing. The rates of borrowing from international lenders rose to nine per cent from six per cent,” he said.

But against such a backdrop, TRA is now required to collect Sh17.1 trillion, which is Sh2 trillion more than what the taxman was meant to collect during the 2016/17 financial year and Sh2.7 trillion more than what it (TRA) actually achieved during the year. Similarly, development spending is also expected to increase slightly by 1.2 per cent from to Sh11.999 trillion.

This also comes against the backdrop of closure of a total of 7,277 businesses across the country between July 2016 and March 2017 even as the government says that TRA also registered a total of 224,738 businesses during the same period.

Attainable

But economists are of the view that the Sh17.1 trillion-target is practicable, saying the country’s business environment will gradually improve and thus create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.

“Had last year’s ways of doing things remained, I would not have been convinced that things would move, but after new measures were introduced in the 2017/18 budget, a lot of things have changed and will continue to change and the Sh17.1 trillion can be realised,” said Prof Humphrey Moshi of the University of Dar es Salaam in a telephone interview yesterday.

Prof Moshi’s arguments are based on a number of measures that the government has taken within the 2017/18 budget aimed at stimulating economic activities.

He is specifically happy with the government’s decision to scrap the annual motor vehicle licence fee and instead raising excise duty on petroleum products by Sh40.

“Before that, one could drive a vehicle with a fake registration sticker and avoid paying the fee, but now, there will be no avoiding the tax. You cannot drive a vehicle without refueling it. So, as you refuel it, you will be paying tax,” he said.

Besides, he said the government has also exempted VAT on importation of capital goods as way of reducing procurement and importation costs on machines and plants used in production. Similarly, it has zero-rate VAT on ancillary transport services associated with goods in transit as it seeks to attract more and more business to the Dar es Salaam Port.

“This was one of the reasons behind a drop a goods at the Dar es Salaam port. This is now bound to change,” he said.

The government, said Prof Moshi, is also determined to pay its various contractors and service providers to public schools, hospitals and security organs, among others.

“All these measures will stimulate economic activities. Besides, people have realised that President John Magufuli wants everyone to work hard and pay tax. You can see how people are complying with payment of Property Tax. I am convinced that the situation will be better this year,” he said.

According to the TRA director of taxpayer services, Mr Richard Kayombo, the tax body is currently undertaking various sensitisation programmes aimed at ensuring that businesses make use of EFDs effectively. Similarly, it hopes to collect more in Corporate Tax, with the deadline for last financial year collections ending on Saturday, July 15.

Capital City Kampala Introduces New Taxes to Plug Funding Gap

Photo: MIchael Kakumirizi/Daily Monitor

Funding. An aerial view of Kampala City. KCCA has suffered a Shs200b budget shortfall after the Ministry of Finance approved Shs410.1b budget ceiling against its proposed Shs600b.

By Siraje Lubwama & Amos Ngwomoya

Kampala — Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has proposed a blend of new taxes and re-introduced those earlier suspended in a bid to plug the Shs200b funding gap.

According to the KCCA budget estimates for the Financial Year (FY) 2017/2018, the authority has suffered a Shs200b budget shortfall after the ministry of Finance approved Shs410.1b budget ceiling against their proposed Shs600b. KCCA received Shs563b for the FY 2016/17.

Explaining the proposed tax interventions in an interview with Daily Monitor last week, KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi said they have been compelled to introduce new taxes to give the city a facelift as the country aims to achieve a middle income status as envisaged by government.

“We are supposed to do a lot of work including remodelling about 20 roundabouts and increasing solar street lights but the money allocated to us is not enough,” Ms Musisi explained.

“We are going to re-introduce property rates on residential-owner occupied properties and introducing new taxes,” Ms Musisi said.

Boda boda cyclists and motor vehicles accessing the central business district too will be subjected to a fee, although Ms Musisi did not disclose how much. The new taxes will take effect next FY.

For instance, building plan fees and demolition fees will be increased by 150 per cent, outdoor advertising rates by 100 per cent and street parking fees by 50 per cent.

In an effort to streamline the boda-boda operations in the city, KCCA registered 54,393 boda bodas in 2013. However, the exercise was later halted.

It is estimated that there are currently 300,000 boda boda riders operating from within Kampala City. Unlike taxis which pay a road user fee of Shs120,000 per month, boda boda riders don’t pay any fees.

In the 2015/2016, KCCA then proposed Shs20, 000 to be paid by each cyclist per month.

Recently, Ms Musisi told MPs on the Presidential Affairs’ Committee that the authority projects to collect Shs5b annually from bodas.

There will also be adjustments in the payment of the property tax to raise KCCA’s revenue collection targets. Property tax is the levy on any property that exists within the jurisdiction of the city.

It’s charged in fulfilment of the periodic statutory requirement of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2005.

According to the Act, every property owner is required to pay 6 per cent of the money they collect from buildings after deductions on bills like water, electricity, wages to cleaners and renovation among others.

The KCCA director of revenue collections, Mr Samuel Sserunkuuma, told Daily Monitor that they expect to raise Shs50b annually in property tax from all commercial buildings in the city. Currently, KCCA collects only Shs8b.

Mr Serunkuuma also explained that they will tighten the grip on the collection of other taxes like ground rent.

Kampala minister Beti Olive Kamya last month tabled KCCA’s ministerial policy statement for the next FY, to be scrutinised by the Parliamentary Presidential Affairs’ committee.

Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago expressed apprehension about the slashed KCCA budget saying: “The last time we stopped authority meetings, we were told that KCCA budget has been slashed to Shs314b from Shs562b. How do you tell the country that by 2020, we shall be in the middle income status when you slash money that would modernise the city?” he asked.

However, the budget cuts will among others affect major city projects.

Ms Kamya and Mr Lukwago concur that since Kampala contributes 70 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the budget should be raised to at least Shs1 trillion.

Budget cuts

Making a case for the budget cuts before Parliament, Relief and Disaster Preparedness minister Hillary Onek said all government sectors have been affected and the money will be used to purchase food relief for the hunger-stricken areas.

The budget

Since its establishment in 2012, KCCA has enjoyed a budget increment. One of the major areas where it has heavily invested is infrastructure.

However, in the next FY’s budget, the unfunded road works are estimated at more than Shs25.4b.

Last FY, Shs369.1b was released to the Works and Transport sector but this FY, only Shs116.9b will be availed.

The most affected sector is development and external financing of Kampala Institution Infrastructural Development Project (KIIDP 2) which last FY received Shs237b. This has been reduced to Shs109.4b where government will make a Shs77.6b contribution.

On the other hand, trade development and external financing has been reduced to Shs337.3b from last FY’s Shs410.1b with government contributing Shs129.2b.

In the new budget, works and transport maintains a lion’s share at Shs118.9b, human resources and administration (Shs89.5b), education (Shs37b), health (Shs20.3b), water and environment (Shs15.5b), political governance (Shs17.8b) and legal support (Shs12.4b).

On the other hand, the least funded sectors include social development (Shs1.8b), urban planning (Shs3.4b), executive support (Shs5.4b) and production (Shs7b).

Bank of Africa to Start Unsecured Lending

By Stephen Otage

Kampala — Bank of Africa (BoA) Uganda has launched a new business financing arrangement which gives loans to businesses within 48 hours provided they are registered.

Speaking at the launch last week, Bernard Robinson Mugalu, the bank’s managing director, said in the current economic environment, there is need to appreciate that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) constitute 90 per cent of the private sector, employing more than 2.5 million which is a huge workforce and yet are left out of the traditional financing available to lenders.

“SMEs constitute over 90 per cent of the private sector, employing over 2.5 million people which is a larger sector to explore because of its chunk of revenue,” he said, adding that this sector is often left out of the traditional financing available to lenders.

“This platform is a straightforward access to funding for what we consider to be the very backbone of our economy,” he said explaining that besides this new product, the bank provides unsecured bid guarantee of up to Shs200 million, unsecured invoice discounting up to the same amount and asset finance loan for business machinery, trucks and equipment within 48 hours.

On ensuring compliance in case the borrowers fail to refund the money, Mr Claver Serumaga, the bank’s general manager business development, said the financial institution has created an SME Business forum which acts as an avenue for the companies to engage with Uganda Registration Services Bureau and The Uganda Insurers Association to explain to them the importance of registering businesses and how to mitigate risks through insurance.

He added that they are offering better, regulated and an alternative financing model that can change the financial picture of thousands of SMEs around the country.

Last week, the bank held the first business forum with business owners drawn from Kampala and up country. Mr Serumaga said by introducing the product to the SMEs, they want to demonstrate that they understand the needs and aspirations which underpin the actions of SME owners.

Unsecured loan

No collateral. An unsecured loan is a loan that is issued and supported only by the borrower’s creditworthiness, rather than by any type of collateral. It is obtained without the use of property as collateral for the loan, and it is also called a signature loan or a personal loan.

Uganda

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Former Vice President Awori Denies Karen Land-Grab Claim

By Maureen Kakah and Richard Munguti

Former Vice-President Moody Awori on Wednesday denied allegations that a company in which he served as a director defrauded the widow of a former provincial commissioner of a disputed land in Karen, Nairobi.

While being cross-examined by lawyer William Arusei for Ms Carmelina Mburu, the widow of PC John Godhard Mburu, Mr Awori said Muchanga Investment Ltd acquired the disputed land mainly because its owner had died.

He insisted Muchanga had a title for the 134-acre land, indicating that it was registered in the Lands registry on February 11, 1983 at 3.15pm.

He said the company paid Barclays Bank Sh1,250,000 for the land.

NO RESPONSE

But when asked to respond on whether the land was acquired fraudulently, he said he had no response to that question.

He also confirmed letters exchanged between lawyers and the bank over the purchase of that land.

“The land was sold because the owner was dead… I can’t remember seeing the sales agreement,” he said.

Mr Awori was testifying in the case in which Muchanga, through lawyer Cecil Miller sued Habenga Holdings Ltd, Jina Enterprises Ltd, Telesource.com Ltd, the director of surveyors, the lands ministry, the director of physical planning and the chief lands registrar in 2014.

The bank is listed as an interested party in the case and was once an administrator of the property until its initial owner, Mr Arnold Bradley, died in 1974.

Hearing continues.

Kenya

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Rwanda’s Economy Is in the Right Trajectory, But Do Landlords See It?

columnBy Natalie Campbell-Rodriques

My business is real estate. That’s what I do every day including (and this displeases my family) Sundays. Shortly after moving to Rwanda in 2015, I started a real estate company which specialises in helping both Rwandans and expatriates rent, buy and sell commercial and residential properties.

Now, after more than a year of running a business you begin to understand its environment a lot better.

Rwanda is, in many respects, a young real estate market. Most companies in the sector are relatively new and few real estate agents have either formal training or long years of experience. There are gaps, some of which are obvious, including the absence of a multiple listing service that would allow all real estate agents to view available properties and show these to their clients with a portion of the earned commission going to the agent that listed the property. But all in all the business works, and one can see clear signs of the sector developing and formalising.

These days a common discussion I have with both clients and non-clients relates to the question of whether there is a bubble in the real estate sector here. Many of the folks I talk to say they see signs of oversupply in the market, particularly in relation to commercial space and hotel rooms. And they point, worryingly, to the fact that new buildings continue to go up. Folks are less concerned about the residential property market, where demand and supply appear to be more aligned. On the residential side, the bigger concern is the insufficient number of low-income houses. There are not enough houses within the price range of many lower and middle income Rwandans, especially within Kigali. (For any potential investor reading this article: this is the segment of the market to target!)

This is the general assessment of the situation. Little disagreement. Where the argument begins is on the subject of what will happen next. On one side, there are those that argue that the real estate sector has a bubble and if anything goes wrong in the economy the proverbial house of cards will come tumbling down. On the opposing side are those who also recognise that there is an oversupply of commercial space and hotel rooms but argue that Rwanda has gambled on creating the infrastructure for long-term growth, and it will take a few years for demand to fully catch up with supply. Those in this category point to a range of public, private and public-private investments made in the past decade that will drive growth. They point to investments in areas such as energy, roads, logistics facilities, airplanes, hotels, etc which they believe lay a solid foundation for long-term growth particularly in the services sectors (tourism, financial, etc) but also in industry and manufacturing.

Seen the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams? The main theme is that if you build a better ballpark then people will come. There are many who say that if Rwanda continues to lead in terms of stability, peace, security, cleanliness, ease of doing business, and quality infrastructure etc., then private investors and tourists will come. And, the argument goes, in 5 or 10 years, much of the commercial space and hotel rooms will be occupied, incomes and consumer demand will further increase. The glass is half full. Rwanda is building a better ballpark.

These are the two broad camps: the house of cards about to fall versus a better ballpark with more people coming. I won’t attempt to persuade anyone to choose between these views. I have my views and I am unapologetic. I see promise and potential. I believe the path taken by Rwanda and the investments made to attract investments, while not perfect, are fundamentally the right ones. But I also understand the concerns.

From where I sit, I can see that there are areas of oversupply in the real estate sector. And I do wonder sometimes whether some of my landlords have adequate cash to service their loans. I find that I am also increasingly recommending to landlords that they be prepared to reduce the asking price for commercial space over the short-term. The market is real. It lives and breathes like a human being. And it has its own rules and logic. When buyers/tenants are not prepared to pay the asking price, you can either sit on your property for a long time and accept the loss of revenue, or reduce price, get some cash flow, and wait on the market to turn. Many do not seem ready to reduce price, but the market is speaking.

In short, I do believe that the economy is on the right trajectory, and that investments are increasing. Often I meet with investors scouting for opportunities in Rwanda. But there are risks and everyone has a role in managing them. Banks certainly need to be very stringent in assessing the feasibility (and cash flow prospects) of new real estate projects. Investors must focus more on segments of the market where demand is high, such as low-income housing. And landlords must pay heed to the market and be prepared to put their egos aside, recognise sunk costs, and reduce their asking price when necessary. It is better to earn a little than nothing at all. The glass can either be half-empty or half-full.

The writer is a development consultant, and owner and operator of Forrest Jackson Relocation Services..

Kenya: Court Case Lifts Lid Off Chase Bank’s ‘Shady Deals’

By Allan Olingo

On Wednesday, November 11, 2015, Mwaniki Gakio, an employee of Chase Bank, wrote an e-mail sharing the management accounts of Riverside Mews Ltd with the bank’s then chairman Zafrullah Khan, its then group managing director Duncan Kabui and Daniel Mavindu, the chief finance officer of Rafiki DTM.

The e-mail was copied to Conrad Lukale, who worked at Genghis Capital, Chase Bank’s head of analytics Stephen Karumbi, and the bank’s then general manager in charge of strategy Johnson Kamau.

Mr Khan’s response was curt: “This is my personal stuff. Can you restrict circulation?”

Riverside Mews was a special purpose vehicle formed by the two top executives at the bank.

The e-mail exchange is among documents filed in a case by Chase Bank against its former chairman, chief executive officer and four senior managers, accusing them of using several special purpose vehicles (SPVs) to defraud the bank of $149 million, leading to its collapse in April last year.

Riverside Mews Ltd is one of the firms at the centre of the court case. Chase Bank, now under receivership of the Kenya Depositors Insurance Corporation, filed a suit through its lawyer Philip Murgor, accusing Mr Khan, Mr Kabui, former general manager of corporate assets James Mwaura and former general manager of finance Makarios Agumbi of using their positions to illegally acquire and benefit from the bank’s assets.

It is now seeking to recover the lost cash.

Others sued are Chase Assurance and Ghengis Capital managing director Ali Cheema, Mr Mavindu, former directors Anthony Gross and Ruth Muthoni, and a network of 11 companies that the bank is accusing of profiteering from funds siphoned from it.

On February 22, 2016, two months before the bank collapsed, an e-mail was sent by a whistleblower from Laurent Demey to Mr Khan and Mr Kabui and copied to Richard Carter, a non-executive director of the bank, stating that the two bank executives were engaged in fraudulent activities aided by a few long serving senior staff.

“Mr Khan had stolen funds and used them for personal ventures: Which include Sema, Lighthouse Properties, Genghis with investment in prime real estate properties worth billions of shillings accumulating close to 50 per cent of the bank’s shares including a recent rights issue through proxies and shell companies. There are also millions of dollars stashed away in offshore account,” the whistleblower wrote, adding that as a result of the fraud, Chase Bank was facing a liquidity crisis.

Mr Carter, in his response to the whistleblower, wrote to the bank’s management seeking information about the special purpose vehicles, stating that the board was unaware of their existence.

“I have reviewed Chase Bank’s response to the whistleblower’s claims with great interest and I would want full details of the bank’s relationship with each of the SPVs, as there were no board discussions on the related entities,” Mr Carter wrote.

It is this exchange that lifted the lid off the fraud claims, when it leaked to the public and caused a run on the bank, culminating in its collapse.

The bank is now linking Mr Khan’s response to the sharing of the management accounts of one of the SPVs, its shareholding and the properties acquired to build a fraud case, where it is seeking to recover more than $149 million from several individuals. It argues that these SPVs were not part of Chase Bank group.

Intended to defraud”Chase Bank (in receivership) states that the amalgamation of the purported personal or private properties in these third party SPVs indicates that the entities were not necessarily set up for a ‘special purpose’ but clearly intended to defraud the bank. Further, the lack of clear demarcation between properties purported to belong to Mr Khan and those that belong to the Chase Bank is indicative of poor corporate governance,” the banks says in its court documents.

It claims that Mr Khan, through the SPVs, bought high-end properties in Dubai, the US and the Kenya Coast. He also bought luxurious vintage vehicles

The properties were mostly acquired by Rinascimento Global Ltd, Nine Fifty Ltd, The Lighthouse Property Company, Mathatani Ltd, Friends Property Holdings Ltd and Boulevard Properties Ltd, which were co-owned by Mr Khan, Mr Kabui, Mr Cheema and Mr Mavindu.

The properties include an office block and apartment in Nairobi’s Riverside area, an apartment at Mombasa’s English Point Marina, and three plots in Ukunda and Voi, all owned by Riverside Mews.Watermark Business Park in Nairobi’s Karen area registered to PEP Ltd, a piece of land in Athi River owned by Friends Properties and 11 houses in Edenville Estate in Kiambu owned by Seven Forty Investments are also believed to have been acquired using the funds from Chase Bank.

The Central Bank also lists three plots in Diani owned by Nine Fifty Ltd, a farm in Nyandarua owned by Rinascimento, a villa in Diani, two apartments in Runda, Nairobi, and a piece of land in Shimoni, Kwale, owned by Boulevard Properties.

Barred from sellingOn April 20, the High Court barred the six former executives of the bank from selling or transferring any of the assets they are alleged to have acquired using illicit proceeds from the troubled lender.

Justice Fred Ochieng issued an order barring any dealings in the assets until May 22, when he will hear all the parties and issue further directions.

At the end of last month, the CBK advertised for bidders to take an equity interest in the collapsed lender, barely hours after extending its receivership by a further six months.

“Following the receipt and evaluation of expressions of interest, a shortlist of qualifying investors will be granted access to a comprehensive confidential data room to develop a formal proposal to acquire Chase Bank (Kenya) Ltd. The shortlisted investors will be determined in a fair process using appropriate and objective criteria based on, inter alia, regulatory imperatives and prudential guidelines that will ensure a speedy and optimal recovery for depositors, creditors and other stakeholders of Chase Bank, while also mindful of seeking to preserve and develop a sound and innovative banking system in Kenya,” CBK said in a statement.

The move, however, was seen as backtracking on CBK Governor Dr Patrick Njoroge’s earlier stand after he met with depositors in Nairobi in December and reassured them that the bank would be out of receivership by the end of March 2017.

In a previous interview, Dr Njoroge had been optimistic that the sale would go through smoothly, noting that phase three of the receivership had begun, and the lender’s books were looking good.

Zimbabwe: National Building Society Pushes Ahead With Housing Project

Chinhoyi — Nascent mortgage lender, National Building Society (NBS), will push ahead with its plans to tap into the lower end of the housing market by rolling out an ambitious nationwide housing scheme despite the low levels of financial inclusion and incomes in the country.

NBS, which is owned by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), was licensed in April 2016 and opened its first branch in May the same year.

“We provide affordable low cost housing through the provision of mortgage finance to first time home owners primarily for high and medium density developments. Our primary target market is the low to middle income earners as well as individuals in the informal sector,” NBS managing director, Ken Chitando, said.

High interest rates on loans are a huge deterrent for Zimbabweans, the majority of whom are building houses using channels in the informal system.

NBS’s interest rates are at between 9,5 percent for home owners who want mortgages in the high density areas and 11,5 percent per annum for medium density.

These rates are more competitive than those currently prevailing in the market ranging between 15 percent and 18 percent.

Economist Prosper Chitambara said mortgage rates are too high in Zimbabwe.

“The challenge in the country has to do with the cost of obtaining mortgages. Most low income earners will not be able to pay back because the interest rates are still on the high side,” said Chitambara.

Chitambara does not see the rates coming down anytime soon.

“There is no liquidity and if they can come down I am not sure they can come down significantly enough to have an impact,” he said.

NBS is currently working on projects in areas such as Bindura, Ruwa, Shurugwi, Gweru and Masvingo. It is in the process of finalising the necessary modalities for a housing project that will see 700 units completed in what will be the initial phase for Batanai township in Chinhoyi.

The piece of land in Chinhoyi has a capacity for 2 500 housing units.

Government’s economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), says NSSA has the mandate to deliver affordable housing for over 1,2 million people on the waiting list.

With government desperate to show achievements made under Zim-Asset, NBS is trying to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time with the 2018 elections looming. Provision of stands and housing is part of the ruling ZANU-PF party’s campaign strategy particularly in urban areas.

NBS wants to develop 100 000 units worth US$1,5 billion over the next five years. Official figures say the country’s housing waiting list is at 1, 25 million.

The building society plans to float a series of bonds as it tries to raise US$150 million for the construction of 10 000 housing units this year.

Economist Kipson Gundani believes that by targeting low income earners, NBS is simply responding to the dictates of the market.

“The majority of us can be classified as low income earners including civil servants who are the majority of those employed. So these people are being responsive to the needs on the market where people don’t have money but are in need of houses. So the only thing you can do is to offer a product that they can afford. They are being rational, they are being realistic,” said Gundani.

Observers note that the bulk of the housing deficit is in the lower end of the market and believe that people can translate part of their rental commitments into loan commitments. NBS’s stands range from 100 square metres to 300 square metres at between US$10 500 and US$38 190.

“People can open a basic account with a deposit of US$5. We want to encourage a spirit of saving because when you save you demonstrate your capacity to be able to make regular payments month on month and a track record which helps when applying for a loan,” said the building society. NBS also offers personal loans at an interest rate of 15 percent per annum on a reducing balance basis for a period ranging from six months to five years.

The Movable Property Security Interest Bill, recently brought before lawmakers by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, seeks to make it easier for the informal sector to access funding from banks by using assets such as livestock and vehicles to secure loans from banks.

Three Injured As Fire Guts Local Beer Factory in Musanze

Photo: Regis Umurengezi/The New Times

People trying to help police put out the fire in Musanze district.

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Three people were injured and properties worth millions destroyed after fire gutted a Musanze-based local beer factory, yesterday.

The incident occurred at around midday in Cyuve sector, Musanze District, according to officials.

Chief Inspector of Police Innocent Gasasira, the Northern Province regional police spokesperson confirmed the incident, saying investigations had started to ascertain the cause of the fire as well as the actual value of destroyed properties.

One employee sustained serious injuries while others sustained minor injuries.

They were rushed to Ruhengeri Hospital for treatment, according to Gasasira.

The factory makes beer from ginger, commonly known as Tangawizi.

“Our firefighting truck was at the scene to put out the fire before it spread to cause huge losses but we are still investigating the real cause of the fire outbreak,” said Gasasira.

According to the factory owners and eye witnesses, it is suspected that the fire was caused by electrical short circuit.

Jean Pierre Niyigaba, the proprietor of the factory, said, “We saw smoke from the meter and went to check only to realise fire spreading inside the building. The most affected area is fermentation room.”

He said the factory was insured against fire. The property destroyed was worth between Rwf40million and Rwf50million, according to Niyigaba.

“We were shocked on seeing heavy and huge flames up in the sky. We realised the factory was burning but we looked on helplessly,” said an eye witness.

Police warned business operators to ensure their properties have insurance so that they don’t lose whenever fire outbreaks occur but more importantly to prevent fire incidents.

Rwanda

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Red Cross Sued Over Sale of Its Warehouse

By Derrick Kiyonga

Balikuddembe Mukasa, a life member of the Uganda Red Cross Society, has sued the national humanitarian organization for selling off its own property.

In a suit lodged recently at the land division of the High court, Mukasa accuses the Red Cross of unilaterally selling off a warehouse in Ntinda, Kampala district, in order to pay off debts.

According to Mukasa, the sale of the warehouse by Red Cross was in total disregard of its members’ interests since it will affect the organization’s ability to fulfill its core statutory mandate as a humanitarian relief service provider.

“As a life member of the defendant [Red Cross], the plaintiff’s [Mukasa] stake in the defendant entitles him to proper and transparent management of the latter’s assets including proper accountability for any proceeds from any sale thereof given that it is a humanitarian organization with core statutory duties… ,” the suit reads.

Though the warehouse is key in helping Red Cross fulfill its mandate of providing humanitarian aid, Mukasa says that on March 14, 2017, he read a newspaper article indicating that the organization was selling off the said property ostensibly to pay off debts.

In the article, which Mukasa has attached to the suit, New Vision newspaper reported that in order to pay off debts left by its managers, who were sacked amid allegations of fraud, Red Cross had so far sold its former headquarters on Lumumba avenue, Kampala and a number of old vehicles, which reduced the debt from Shs 20bn to Shs 10bn.

It was also reported in the same article that even the warehouse, valued at Shs 10bn, was also up for sale to raise money to clear the balance. But through Buwule and Mayiga advocates, Mukasa says court should stop the sale of the warehouse since Red Cross has already disposed of other prime properties without proper accountability to its members. According to him, any further disposal of assets will greatly affect the organization’s activities in fulfilling its core statutory mandate.

“The plaintiff [Mukasa] further avers that given prior unaccounted-for sales of other properties belonging to the defendant [Red Cross], by selling off the property in issue, the plaintiff, just like the other members, will be made to suffer untold loss,” the suits reads.

Despite being aware of his objections to the sale of the warehouse, Mukasa says that no action or alternative efforts have been made by Red Cross to avert the likely loss of the key warehouse facility.

“The plaintiff further avers that the defendant’s actions or omissions have caused him mental anguish and inconvenience arising from the uncertainty or likelihood of the defendant’s ability to fulfill its mandate without its key warehousing facilities including that one at Ntinda that are being sold off haphazardly without accountability,” the suit goes on.

Consequently, Mukasa wants the court to issue a permanent injunction restraining Red Cross from “unilaterally” selling off the warehouse without following the proper procedures provided under the society’s constitution.

Nigeria: AMAC IPDC Partners Coy to Develop Kuje Ultra-Modern Market

By Taiwo Adeniyi

The Abuja Municipal Area Council Investment and Property Development Company (AMAC-IPDC) has signed an agreement with BMM Limited to develop the Kuje ultra-modern market within six months.

The Managing Director of AMAC-IPDC, Yakubu Mohammed Adamu, spoke while signing the agreement at Kuje Area Council secretariat on Wednesday.

Adamu in a statement by the company’s Public Relations Officer, Victory Igho, said he was looking beyond the partnership, adding that the company planned expanding its scope beyond the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said the company would take over the development of many markets around Kuje and Abaji area councils.

“We will work with the six months projection of BMM Limited and see the possibility of completing the market as scheduled. We will try our best as a company, we know the earlier the better for us,” he said.

Speaking earlier, the Managing Director of BMM Limited, Musa Moro’a, who expressed confidence in the management of AMAC-IPDC, said the Kuje ultra-modern market would be fully developed in the next four to six months.

Moro’a said the company decided to partner with AMAC-IPDC based on competence and the speedy development of the Kurudu Relocation Market by AMAC-IPDC, which was about 90% completed.

“My expectation from AMAC-IPDC is to move at the pace that it used in developing the Kurudu Relocation Market to also develop the Kuje ultra-modern market. I expect them to move may be even higher,” he said.

Nigeria

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