Voice Mall and J&M Hotel in Bwebajja, Entebbe Road; the Story of Goodra Behakanira

The Voice Mall and Hotel on Entebbe Road was opened for public use on 8th September 2022.  Located at Bwebajja 30Km from Kampala, the Multi-Billion Shopping Mall boasts of modernity and spacious décor. The mall is owned by Mrs. Goodra Behakanira the wife of the late Joseph Behakanira.

Construction of the mall started in 2018 and was officially opened in October 2022.  The building though is not yet fully complete especially in the basement and lower parking areas. A few shops are already occupied but many more are still vacant. The mall is adjacent to the road on the lower side of the road to Entebbe Airport. Before construction, the area had a deep gorge below the road which was backfilled with gravel and hard core to flatten up and level the ground to the height of the road.

The mall has adequate parking space with clearly marked parking areas. More parking lots are being created in the basement and behind the building. Currently, the mall is rather still not busy as few shops that are open have not yet attracted enough clients. Being in a place that is not busy, it may take some time for the mall to attract big clientele but with time, it’s likely to catch up. The design of the building is not eye catching but inside especially the upper floor has some good interior finishing. It’s likely that the both the contractor and the architects were both sourced locally.

Goodra Behakanira the owner, has a soft spot for shopping malls having started off with Avemar Shopping mall on Luwum Street in Kampala back in 1990s. She is a devote Catholic who carries her rosary everywhere she goes.  She together with her late husband owned J&M Hotel and Amusement park on Bwebajja hill which according to their plan, had been designed to be one of the best amusement parks in Uganda. They later sold it to the government of Uganda where the state sought to establish offices of all ministries, departments and agencies. The area was supposed to be the headquarters of government known as the central circuit. Not much has been added by government though since they bought this piece of land.

Government had back in 2004 advanced 4.36 Billion to Mr. Behakanira to construct a hotel which, according to the agreement was supposed to be ready to accommodate some guests in 2007 when Uganda would host the common wealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)  in Kampala. Behakanira neither completed the hotel on time neither did he reimburse the funds government had given him. Behakanira later died in 2010 after a probe by Parliament accused him of fleecing government in the said deal. It is reported too that he was heavily indebted and his businesses were struggling. Unofficial reports indicated that he died of a heart attack because of the hardships his businesses were facing.

When Behakanira died, the wife later sold J&M Hotel land measuring approximately 30 acres to government of Uganda. She used the money to buy the piece of land just directly opposite J&M across the road. Her former land was a strategic hill while the one she bought was located in a valley. The former land was also bigger and very huge in size measuring over 30 acres. The land which she bought and where the mall is located is approximately three acres. It’s rumored that she had debts to clear which forced her to sell her bigger land to offset her huge debt. She used the balance to construct the Voice Mall. Information about how much government paid Goodra to take over J&M Hotel land is scanty but sources said that it was in the region of 100 Billion Uganda Shillings. We could however not independently verify this figure

Goodra had earlier on in 2017 sold Avemar mall in Kampala at$8 Million. It’s said she used part of the money to settle the outstanding debts her husband had left behind. The rest, she used to build the new Mall. Goodra did not divulge how much it cost her to put up The Voice Mall but estimates put it at a rough estimate of $14Million (50Billion Shillings)


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