Luzira Prison Relocation Sparks Parliamentary Debate.

On Wednesday, 24 April 2024, the Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi, presented a statement stating that the dilapidated prison built in the 1920s is facing strain caused by the growing number of inmates and staff, which now stands at 8,790 and 2,653, respectively.

Muhoozi presented three options to address the situation, starting with renovations and expanding the current Luzira facilities at a cost of approximately Shs400 billion. He added that the other option is relocating the prison at government expense while retaining the land and facilities at Luzira for other purposes.

“The last option is relocating Luzira Prisons to another site, with an estimated cost of Shs934 billion to facilitate effective custody, rehabilitation, and reformation of offenders at the cost of the developer,” he added.

However, Members of Parliament expressed reservations about the proposals by the minister.

Hon. Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA, Bugiri Municipality, Bugiri) expressed shock at the proposal by the Government to expand prison facilities in Uganda at a time when the country should be planning for stability and law and order to minimize the prisoner population.

“I am surprised that the Gov’t is planning to expand prison facilities. I am very surprised that part of the relocation is intended to create more space for prisoners at a time when the country is supposed to be planning for stability, law, and order to minimize prisoners. But on the contrary, we are planning for expansion,” he said.

Basalirwa went on to say that the relocation of Luzira Prisons is land grabbing disguised as investing, stating that the Tian Tang Group being fronted by the Government to take over Luzira Land is indebted and has been blacklisted by the World Bank.

“But the fundamental point is the company that is reported to construct this facility. That company has been blacklisted by the World Bank, that company RVR is debt-burdened, and it is the company being fronted. We shouldn’t allow land grabbing disguised as investing in Luzira. Where you want to take Luzira is where you should take that hotel because that place also needs development,” said Basalirwa.

Kasilo County MP, Hon. Elijah Okupa questioned the need for such a vast expanse of land, wondering why a hotel needs all the 260 acres.

“Does an investor need 260 acres of Luzira prisons land to build a hotel and a conference centre?” Okupa asked.

Hon. Eric Musana (Independent, Buyaga East County) advocated against relocation, suggesting that, ‘things are failing; for Luzira land, let it be a preserve of prisons, let us get land elsewhere.’

Hon. Jane Avur (NRM, Pakwach District Woman Representative) proposed an alternative location for the hotel.

“It is time that we focus on tourism cities in this country, and Pakwach offers the best so far. We have a mass body of water there. I am proposing that the five-star hotel must go to that area so that we take development out of Kampala,” she said.

Jinja District Woman Representative, Hon. Loy Katali expressed concern about giving away prime land at no cost.

“Relocating the prisons means giving out prime land for free. If the worst comes to the worst, they can sell off a few acres and reconstruct the prisons at Luzira,” she added.

Hon. Juliet Kinyamatama (NRM, Rakai District Woman Representative) stated that the proposal to relocate the prisons is a scam.

“This deal to relocate Luzira prisons is a scam because this has happened before when we lost Shimoni School and Naguru land, we have been in this cycle for a long time,” Kinyamatama stated.

Hon. Fredrick Angura (NRM, Tororo County South) sided with the proposal to relocate the prisons, saying that all over the world, correctional facilities are not in the city centers, adding that, Luzira is slowly and surely being eaten up by urbanisation.

Erute County South MP, Hon. Jonathan Odur said a substantive motion should be presented, adding that discussing the relocation as it was legitimises the process.

Speaker Anita Among said that the decision to relocate the prisons is an Executive order, but agreed with the proposal by Odur that a substantive motion on the matter of relocation of the prison should be moved.

“We would rather have a motion and say, since the land of Uganda Prisons belongs to the people of Uganda, it is in our considered opinion that, the land that is being occupied by the Uganda prisons remains a property of Uganda prisons,” the Speaker advised.

Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, the Leader of Opposition, said that there have been many cases where land has been given away and no development undertaken.

“We have seen land being given away, and there is no development, and so there is a lack of trust. That is the biggest issue here.  When there is no trust even when you have a good idea, they will not buy into it,” he said.