KAMPALA. On February 13, tenants in several buildings owned by city businessman, Mr Mansour Matovu, woke up to shock of their lives when they found the doors to their shops shut with heavy padlocks.
The tenants were caught off-guard because they did not see the closure coming. Prior to the action, some tenants said they had gone to pay rent for February, but the landlord reportedly rejected the money.
The 17 closed buildings combined have about 7,000 tenants running various businesses.
Just like most of the commercial structures in the Central Business District, rent at the buildings owned by Mr Matovu is charged at a premium rate. Each tenant pays between Shs780,000 to Shs3m per month depending on the square metres occupied. Each square metre costs about Shs65,000.
Not much is said or publicly known about the source of Mr Matovu’s wealth, better known by the nickname Young, other than a lucrative motorcycle deals during his formative years in business in the city’s Ndeeba suburb.
He has been at the centre of battle with the late Charles Muhangi over buildings at Qualicel, which he and his friend Drake Lubega claim to own.
Muhangi, before his sudden demise last December, said the buildings sit on a piece of land he legally owned.
In an interview with Daily Monitor on Wednesday, February13, this year, the day he closed the 17 buildings, Mr Matovu said he owned the buildings and accused the army and police of forcefully taking over his property and collecting rent from the tenants.
He said he locked the buildings and is putting them on sale to prevent the unscrupulous people from grabbing his buildings.
“I now want to sell off my remaining buildings because they will steal them too. All we are looking for is justice and nothing,” he said.
Some of the buildings belonging to Mr Matovu that were closed at the height of the wrangle included Namaganda, Zai, Majestic and MM plazas, all on Luwum Street, Jumbo Plaza, Mini-Price on Ben Kiwanuka Street, Energy Centre on Sikh Road, Jamboree, Qualicel buildings and Nabukeera Plaza near New Taxi Park, Ivory Plaza and Sunset Arcade on Wilson Street.
It is expected such prime properties would attract substantial levies in property rates, considering their inner-city location and commercial use.
Currently Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) charges 6 per cent property rate on commercial properties annually. Though officials at both KCCA and Uganda Revenue Authority, the national tax body, have not stated how much they have been collecting from the buildings that are now at the centre of controversy.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the press, said without providing proof or amounts payable that Mr Matovu has complied on his tax obligations.
Property rate is a tax on all immovable property or buildings, commercially managed such as schools, rented houses, rented shops, factories, hotels, private and public universities and any part of which is used for the purpose of business even if it is owner occupied.