Cuckoo land hotel back in headlines


UGANDA, Africa (eTN) – The problem-riddled and never-completed hotel complex along Entebbe road, conceived by the late Joseph Behakanira is back in the headlines once again. Mr. Behakanira died in February last year within a day of being interrogated by a parliamentary committee investigating the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) fraud allegations and subsequently by the parliamentary detach of the CID. The receivers, Barclays Bank and the widow and presumed heir of the estate of the late developer, have been sued for US$9 million by a Hong Kong-based company, claiming payment and interest for the delivery or materials and related items dating back into 2006. At that time, construction was underway and the hotel complex ready was to be ready for use during the Commonwealth Summit.

However, full-mouthed utterances of “1,000 rooms, 2,000 shops, airstrip, and recreational facilities second to none” soon came to naught when the Commonwealth Secretariat did not even include the place on their list of approved hotels. Not even a last-second multibillion shilling bailout with government money helped – the parliamentary inquiry demanded that the responsible ministers and civil servants be taken to court – as construction effectively stopped when the summit started, never to resume again on a full scale due to lack of money and what financiers belatedly realized were of “cuckoo land” dimensions. Sitting on nearly 100 hectares of land, the prime site lies visibly idle, and the shops next to the road from Kampala to the Entebbe International Airport are empty, except for being used as storage spaces for materials. The initial building, first constructed, appears ready, while many other structures have remained as shells for the past 5 years.

The plaintiffs are seeking a court order to prevent Barclays and Mrs. Behankanira from selling the property now under attachment, as has been advertised publicly, over fears that agreements to pay them with priority would not be respected.