3 August 2012

Uganda: Urban Authorities Want Five New Cities

The Urban Authorities Association (UAAU) wants five municipalities to be upgraded to city status.

In their request to the public service and local government committee yesterday, the association also asked that 10 town councils be upgraded to municipality status.

The UAAU wants the municipalities of Arua, Gulu, Mbale, Jinja plus Mbarara to be turned into cities and the town councils of Adjumani, Kamuli, Kira, Kitgum, Kisoro, Koboko, Kumi, Lugazi, Mubende as well as Nebbi to become municipalities.

"We have visited these administrative units and are confi dent they meet the necessary requirements for their upgrade," UAAU chairman and Mukono mayor Muyanja Senyonga said.

However, committee chairman Raphael Magyezi plus MPs Betty Nambooze and Santa Alum demanded an assessment report on the viability of the proposed cities and municipalities and their attendant divisions by Tuesday next week.

"By upgrading these municipalities and town councils, we shall be creating an array of political offices. You have to show justification for their upgrade before the committee can discuss this subject," a tough-talking Magyezi said.

With each municipality represented in parliament, 10 new parliamentary seats will be created if the House accedes to the request.

The proliferation of local governments has proved to be a touchy subject as perennial underfunding continues to hamstring their operations.

Members of Parliament, for example, heard that 97% of the funds disbursed by the central government to local government are spent on meeting salaries and allowances of staff.

Central government meets 60% of the local government budget component while the 40% is met through revenue raised by the local governments.

According to the Jinja finance officer, George Waibi, for a municipality to be upgraded to city status, it has to have not less than 500,000 residents, core staff like doctors and engineers, a well-planned road network and be connected to the national grid.

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