City Tycoons, Government & Tenants Clash Over Lock down Rent Proposal

City Tycoons, Government & Tenants Clash Over Lock down Rent Proposal

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: After the outbreak of COVID-19 in Uganda, a couple of businesses in Kampala were put on halt and among these were shopping malls and arcades. 

In the Presidential Address on COVID-19 last week, his Excellence Yoweri Kaguta Museveni guaranteed arcades to resume operation however city tycoons owning shopping malls and arcades reminded their tenants to think about paying rent arrears of about three months that they have spent in lock down. 

Landlords’ suggestion didn’t give peace to tenants who requested landlords to waive rent for the months they were not working which city tycoons turned down saying their buildings are built on loans and banks are not ready to waive off those loans. 

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Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde revealed to our source that when tenants met President Museveni last week, they told him that they do not have money to pay rent for the months they have not been working.

After President’s meeting Ms Kyambadde met city landlords, including Dr Sudhir Ruparelia, Hamis Kigundu, Mr Godfrey Kirumira, Dr Ephraim Ntaganda, Mr Rashid Ssemambo and Dr Margaret Ssekidde.

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Dr Ruparelia said landlords cannot forego rent as proposed by tenants because the government also does not want to forfeit any taxes but on top of that, they have to pay other utilities which includes water bills and electricity. 

“We cannot waive the rent arrears because the government has also not waived the taxes and charges on utilities such as water and electricity we have been paying” Dr Sudhir said. 

However, he promised that as landlords they are ready to give ample time to the tenants when arcades are re-opened to pay their arrears.

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Mr Kigundu also revealed that they cannot forego that rent, unless the government is willing to pay them. “Do you want banks to take our buildings over failure to pay their loans?” Mr Kiggundu asked.

“We are ready to work hand in hand with our tenants on how they should pay their arrears. We shall not put them on pressure because they are not the ones who caused the pandemic,” he added.

However Mr Kirumira said on top of loans, they have to pay other utilities, maintain buildings and provide security for the properties of tenants.

After landlords decision of not being ready to waive rent, Mr John Kabanda, the chairperson of Kampala New Generation Traders Association, also said that tenants in arcades have vowed not to pay any rent for the period they have not been working.

Kabanda added that they met President last week to pronounce himself on the matter, “We have not been working, so why should we pay rent for the services we have not been using? Government should pronounce it’s self on this matter before the arcades are re-opened. If it doesn’t, we shall demonstrate this injustice. (https://casadelninobilingual.com/) We shall not even pay the instalments the landlords are talking about,” Mr Kabanda said.

According to one of the tenants we interacted with Mr John Bosco Kakomo, a tenant in Kikuubo, angrily said that landlords are just using excuses of need to pay operational utilities like electricity and other bills forgetting that tenants have also not been working. 

“Landlords should ask their tenants to pay a small amount to cater for few utilities as opposed to making them pay full amounts” Kakomo said. 

However as we report, sources have comfirmed to us that both the government and landlords agreed on the special operating procedures for re-opening of arcades. 

“Government and landlords agreed on the special operating procedures for re-opening of arcades but will be following SOPs”

Some of the procedures to be followed include; decongesting the arcades by reducing the number of occupants to three per shop and ensuring a social distance of two meters between the shop attendants and removing people trading in the corridors, staircases and doorways.

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