Suspected ghost firm moves to claim Entebbe's Kitubulu forest reserve

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Suspected ghost firm moves to claim Entebbe's Kitubulu forest reserve
Part of the Kitubuulu Central Forest Reserve in Entebbe Municipality

According to Katabi Town Council chairperson Ronald Kalema, the community and their leaders have over the last five years fought off several attempts to grab swathes of the 200-acre forest reserve.

ENTEBBE | Authorities Municipality in Entebbe have raised the red flag over suspected dubious sale of Kitubulu Central Forest Reserve to a shady company whose address or owners has been a subject of a wild goose chase.

According to Katabi Town Council chairperson Ronald Kalema, the community and their leaders have over the last five years fought off several attempts to grab swathes of the 200-acre forest reserve.

But it appears like a sneaky investor has finally managed to creep into the woodlands with the possible intension of razing it down.

Entebbe Municipality MP Micheal Kakembo Mbwatekamwa has accused National Forestry Authority (NFA) of transferring the a lease ownership title from Real Estate Uganda Limited to freehold title under Tripple Sound Investment Ltd.

A copy of a freehold certificate the Nile Post has obtained shows that ownership of the land covering 46.2 hectares on Plot 371 and 369, Block 443 in Entebbe, Wakiso District, was on March 2, 2022, transferred to Tripple Sound Investment Ltd.

The firm is said to have acquired 120 acres of the land.

"We held a meeting over this fraud that was attended by officials from NFA and the local leadership," Kakembo said.

"The NFA officials confirmed that while the title was genuine, it had been obtained through fraudulent means. This is potentially the final nail in the coffin to the existence of Kitubulu Central Forest Reserve."

Kitubuulu Central Forest Reserve is one of the four important remnants of lowland forests near Lake Victoria that help filter water pollutants and silt that threaten the lake. It also acts as a windbreaker for the forest-adjacent settlements.

Previously the communities lived in harmony with the forest and accessed medicine and firewood.

“A chunk of 120 acres of land in Kitubulu forest is owned by ghost company and we are asking who is behind it," Kakembo said .

"When I landed on the news, I immediately called for a meeting between NFA officials and area leaders to resolve the matter but the officials denied having processed the title,” Kakembo added.

The legislator, who is set to raise the matter on the floor of Parliament, also appealed to the people of Entebbe to be vigilant and act as whistle-blowers to such acts.

The company's address is given in the certificate as P O Box 3015 in Kampala but but the owner is not clear.

Information on Google shows that a company by a similar name is registered in Toronto, Canada, to Mahmud Bharwani.

For many Ugandans, the name Mahmud Bharwani is synonymous with a trail of property scandals, including cancellation of land titles in a wetland and last year's major scandal before the parliamentary Committee Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises.

On April 4, 2010, city authorities, together with Uganda Land Commission, gave the green light to the redevelopment of Plot 71 on Nkrumah Road in Kampala after receiving an application from Securex Amenities Ltd.

The company was nonexistent at the time and went on to transfer the title from a five-year leasehold to freehold before selling off 100 percent stake to Mahmud Bharwani, Shaida Bharwani and Baiju Joshi Bharwani, who acquired 100 per cent of the interests of the three directors.

This website was unable to verify if the said Mahmud Bharwani is the owner of the Ugandan Tripple Sound Investment Ltd as several efforts trace the owners proved futile.

However, NFA spokesperson Juliet Mubbi refuted the accusations of selling the forest to any investors.

“This land title Tripple Sound Investment has acquired, it used fraudulent means, and we have raised the matter with Ministry of Lands to cancel the title," she said.

Mubbi said NFA has no authority to sell anything on the forest reserves.

"We know only partners and private investors that we have licensed who deal in eco-tourism," she said.

"So if there’s anyone who claims to have acquired land in this forest, they are illegal ."

Mubbi also decried current high level cases of illegal land titles issued on forest reserves fraudulently.

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