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Parliamentary Committee Advises Jinja City to Consider Negotiations over Legal Battles

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Parliamentary Committee Advises Jinja City to Consider Negotiations over Legal Battles
Parliamentary Committee Advises Jinja City to Consider Negotiations over Legal Battles
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Members of the Parliamentary Local Government Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have suggested that Jinja City authorities should consider negotiations instead of pursuing legal disputes. They expressed their worry about the rising number of court cases faced by Jinja City, particularly during the 2020/2021 financial year, which have resulted in delays and potential fines.

The Auditor General’s report pointed out the city’s numerous court cases and a reluctance to attend court proceedings, which has prolonged the resolution of these issues and increased the risk of substantial fines if judgments don’t favor the city. The report also raised concerns about the possibility of some city authorities colluding with plaintiffs to defraud the government through compensation claims.

Noah Mutebi, the acting PAC chairperson and Nakasongola MP, questioned why a well-established entity like Jinja City didn’t engage in negotiations before resorting to litigation. He emphasized that most of the ongoing court cases were related to land disputes, which can be costly in terms of legal fees and negatively impact service delivery.

Mutebi also expressed concerns about the city’s reluctance to collaborate with other government agencies in land surveying and titling, which could prevent land-related conflicts that lead to court cases. He highlighted cases where encroachers illegally title land and then sue Jinja City for trespass or denial of access, potentially resulting in substantial compensation payments. This, he argued, could significantly reduce budgets for essential services.

In response, Jinja City clerk Edward Lwanga explained that they initially hired private lawyers in Jinja City to expedite proceedings. However, the Attorney General subsequently assigned six government lawyers to handle their cases in court. Lwanga also mentioned ongoing mediation processes aimed at reaching out-of-court settlements to save government resources.