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Gulu Sells District Land To Pay Sacked Employees

GULU – Saddled with a soaring debt load, Gulu District Local Government has sold at least 30 plots of district land to pay off about Shs 6 billion in compensation to local civil servants laid off in 2001.

The district council in 2001 passed a resolution sanctioning the layoff parish chiefs working in various sub counties.

About 89 parish chiefs were laid off and they sued later for unlawful termination of contract.

The High Court in Gulu ruled in favor of the complainants in 2011 and awarded them Shs 2.6 billion in compensation, attracting an 18% interest rate. With the passage of years, the debt soared to Shs 6 billion.

Court also sanctioned the attachment of several assets of the district for auctioning including 23 vehicles, Pece War Memorial Stadium, the district administration building and 40 plots of land. 

In December 2016, a team of court bailiffs from Auctioneers and Court Bailiffs Associates attached some assets to recover the money.

The then Chief Administrative Officer Dorothy Ajwang and the District Chairman Martin Ojara Mapenduzi leaned on police to shield them from the bailiffs.

Mapenduzi revealed in an interview with Uganda Radio Network recently that the bailiffs have so far recovered Shs 2.4 billion.

Part of that money was seized from the district bank accounts while the rest was raised through sale of district land and institutional buildings.

Ojara said the district tried and failed to get the ministry of Local Government and the central government to help settle the debt.

“While the Ministry of Local Government said there was no money to give us, the Office of the President looked at our documents and said the case was bad and the ruling was justifiable,” he said.  

Geoffrey Okaka, the Gulu district Chief Administrative Officer, said revenue collection has dipped so much in that the district cannot even finance its own activities.

He said the district may lose most of its assets if the central government doesn’t to intervene.

Piloya Evelyn, the councilor representing Paicho Sub County in Gulu District Local Government, said the debt burden is worrying. She urged district authorities to be careful in the way they handle employees.

The case against Gulu was lodged when the districts of Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro were still part of the greater Gulu District where the complainants worked before they were sacked.  

The properties sold recently to pay the debt include; a plot adjacent to Uganda Management Institute, a plot next to Gulu Main Prisons and the building of Gulu Support for Children Organization-GUSCO, a former rehabilitation center for children affected by the Lord’s resistance Army insurgency.  

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