The Independent (Kampala)

16 December 2012

Uganda: Discontent As KCCA Planning Committee Starts Work

Urban experts concerned about insufficient composition of new physical planning team

Urban planning experts and architects are not happy with the composition of Kampala's Physical Planning Committee, saying it will not deliver results for the benefit of the people and the country at large.

In mid November, Frank Tumwebaze, the new minister in charge of Kampala, announced his arrival by instructing KCCA to establish the physical planning committee in accordance with the provisions of section 9 of the physical Planning Act, 2010 to process and handle the backlog of about 2,000 plans/development applications that have been pending since the Authority was established almost a year ago. The Authority subsequently formulated the committee from amongst its directors, which some experts say was irregular.

However, only days after the Committee was set up, Betty Nambooze, the Mukono Municipality MP, expressed concern saying the Metropolitan Physical Planning Authority (MPPA) - yet to be formulated - is the entity that was supposed to play the role of the physical planning committee. In his Nov.27 statement to Parliament on the matter however, Tumwebaze appeared to be on the right side of the law.

Quoting the Physical Planning Act 2010 and the Constitution, he said the establishment of a physical planning committee in the capital city was legal in as far as Kampala is deemed to be a 'district.' On the other hand, the metropolitan area - which the MPPA oversees, takes care of the Kampala together with the neighbouring districts of Mpigi, Wakiso and Mukono.

This means that while the physical planning committees within the city and within each of the three districts are responsible for physical planning development within their local jurisdictions, the MPPA, which has veto powers, oversees physical planning development in the wider regional area. Peter Kauju, the KCCA spokesperson, says the committee, which started work with immediate effect, comprises 14 members from the different KCCA technical departments and is chaired by the Executive Director Jennifer Musisi.

He says its main role is to receive physical development applications, review them, give guidelines and approve the plans. Other duties of the committee are to plan for the development of the urban design, infrastructure and administer land management. However, urban planning experts and architects are unhappy over the omission of people from outside the Authority, and more so since physical planning puts a lot of things at stake including financial loss, property rights and livilihoods.

Experts worried

Amin Tamale Kiggundu, an urban planning expert at the Faculty of Technology at Makerere University, says the committee is not representative enough and it is too small in relation to the volume of the pending work and given fact that Kampala is enlarging day after day.

Kiggundu says that the Committee should have been chaired by the political head of the Authority, the Lord Mayor, and it should also have more representatives from outside the Authority; such as representatives of academicians, the private sector, marketers association and the business community. He argued that a group of technocrats headed by the executive director can only come up with the views of the policy implementers at the expense of Authority's obligations to other interests in the community.

"If the committee had people other than the technocrats, it could come up with more ideas beyond technical directives. It needs people who are nearer to the people to cater for the interests of vulnerable groups such as vendors among other groups," he says.

The Uganda Society of Architects (USA) had similar concerns. The association - an umbrella of professional architects in Uganda - argued that the history of planning in Kampala shows that the city requires the expertise of modern architects to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

Juliet Kasaija, the body's executive secretary, said a capacity city's physical planning team worth its salt should have had an architect as a member. "We want to know whether it was an omission; that is why we wrote to the executive director because we can only hope that it was an oversight," she said.

She added that the challenges in the city could be insurmountable if the expertise of architects is not considered in line with the Physical Planning Act 2010, which stipulates that physical planning committees at the district level should have an architect - which she says explains the indispensable role architects could play at the Authority and in the country's development.

Given that the committee comprises only technical people who are generally law enforcers, concern is rife that 'the people's voices' are conspicuously missing on the team. The Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago says he had called for a special meeting to discuss the issue with the councilors and the executive director but the directors failed to turn up and only four councilors turned up - an indication that omitting the people's voices could have been intended.

Kiggundu says a MPPA with "diverse membership" is also long overdue to deal with deal with the chaos that arises from external forces that include migration because Kampala is expanding.

Tumwebaze, the minister, said the handover report of his predecessor indicated that "some efforts" were made to have the members of the MPPA appointed. "I shall endeavor to conclude what was started after all consultations have been made," he said. The Independent has learnt that a group of five people led by former Wakiso District Chairman Ian Kyeyune was approached by Tumwebaze's predecessor Muruli Mukasa but the process of formalizing their appointment is still ongoing.

Committee Members

Jennifer Musisi (chairperson) -Executive Director

Joseph Ssemambo -director physical planning

Andrew Kitaka - engineering and technical services

Anne Galiwango - education and social services

Dr. Godfrey Habomugisha - public health

Harriet Mudondo - gender and community services

Deputy director - Public Health

Deputy director - Production and Marketing

Manager, roads and surveying

Godfrey Kisekka - Town Clerk, Nakawa

Francis Barabawe - Town Clerk, Lubaga

Theophlius Tibihika - Town Clerk, Makindye

James Luyimbazi - Town Clerk, Kawempe

Jimmy Ambrose Atwoko -Town Clerk, Central Division

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