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Real Estates Business Faces Stiff Challenge

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The real estate industry in Uganda is on its way to the peak as more and more people find it profitable to invest in the sector.
However, while there is a mad-dash for new office and business spaces in places like Kampala, real estate investors in upcountry areas are finding it difficult to stay in the business.
In Fort Portal renting space on a newly constructed commercial buildings costs between 400,000 and 600,000 shillings monthly. In Kampala, the same space would cost more than double the amount in Fort Portal.
Fenland Shopping Arcade on Lucida Street is one of the new commercial buildings in Fort Portal town. But only 20 out of the 35 rooms on the arcade are occupied.
Lillian Mpanja, who operates a business on the arcade, says that the other tenants left the building when the land lord revised the rent from 450,000 to 500,000 shillings.
The proprietor, Suzan Bajenja says that she pushed up the rent because of high maintenance costs. She says that she spends hefty sums on electricity, water and renovation which she does twice in a year.
Bajenja is not certain of the future of her business. She says if the business fails, she would sale the building. At Kenchi shopping arcade on Kahinju road a room costs 400,000 shillings, but only 15 out of the 25 rooms are occupied.
Florence Kemigisa, the proprietor says the rent is high because she spends a lot of money on renovating her building and paying bills. Kemigisa declines to comment why most of her rooms are empty but says that she is always patient and hopes to get tenants.
Jesus reigns commercial building on Malibo road has 20 rooms but only 10 are occupied. The proprietor, Steven Kaliisa says that people in the town are cutting their expenditure and save money for their own investment.
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Kaliisa also says that trading centers outside the town have been developed forcing people to return closer to their rural homes.
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Kaliisa also plans to put his building on sale or turn it into a computer school.
At E.K Downtown shopping centre on Bwamba road, out of the 60 rooms, 35 are occupied. The empty rooms have been advertised for over two months but people aren't interested in occupying them.
Construction of Fort Portal shopping centre on Magambo Street was put on halt last month. The proprietor, Simon Bitamanya says he plans to demolish the building and use the land for something else.
Bitamanya says that people with businesses aren't occupying commercial buildings because the number of people constructing houses is high.
He says that people prefer to build their own houses and then use part of the rooms to sell their products. The loans officer Centenary Bank Fort Portal branch, Mark Ahura says individuals with plans of constructing commercial buildings acquire loans from the bank but few are able to complete payment.
Ahura says that the bank has attached two commercial buildings of businessmen in the town for failure to pay the loans given to them.

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