17 April 2014

Uganda: Get Govt Offices Out of City Centre - Musisi

The government should relocate some of its offices from the central business district (CDB) of Kampala, the city's technical administrator has said.

Jennifer Musisi, the executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), said on Wednesday that the move would help decongest the city centre. Interacting with journalists at the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) offices in Kampala, Musisi suggested that KCCA's ongoing efforts to decongest Kampala might not bear the desired fruits as long as government offices are clustered around the CBD.

"I am hoping that government will, one of these days, think of [taking] offices out of the city centre," she said.

To illustrate the challenge facing her team, Musisi spoke of the difficulty of streamlining the traffic flow around the KCCA headquarters. City Hall is surrounded by Parliament, Office of the President, Auditor General's Office, as well as the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance.

"I wish they were in Namanve or Namawojjolo," she said. "Imagine all the government offices moving that side of town, then there would be less people coming into town because all the traffic would go outwards."

Satellite towns

Currently, according to Musisi, most of the infrastructure rehabilitation work that the city authority is implementing is geared towards decongesting the city.

"As part of our physical development plan, we want to spread out services so we have satellite towns so people don't have to come into Kampala, so that we push business out of the CBD," she said.

Activities aimed at decentralising services include the construction of seven markets in different city divisions, provision of high-quality school facilities for low-income families, revamping of public libraries in the divisions, and gazetting of satellite taxi parks.

"We are talking with private developers in Banda [to set up] a taxi park there, Bwaise and Nateete, so that taxis coming from those routes stop there and they don't have to come into the city. In Kampala you come in and circle and get out. You don't park in Kampala," Musisi explained.

She said the biggest challenge was changing the attitudes of city residents, many of whom oppose the changes the authority proposes. She said they expect opposition to the decentralisation of services but would not be deterred.

"There will be a lot of noise around that but we are getting used to it. Eventually it settles down and then we move [on]," she said.

KCCA at three

Musisi enumerated a number of "KCCA achievements" in her maiden three-year term of office, which ended on Wednesday. KCCA has "done" more than 140 kilometres of city roads over the last three years, Musisi said, and plans to rehabilitate more than 70 roads around the city in the next financial year.

She named the Fairway hotel roundabout on Yusuf Lule road, Bukoto-Ntinda road, Wandegeya area and the proposed flyovers connecting Jinja road to Entebbe road as some of the other priority projects.

Musisi said over the last three years KCCA had reduced its bank accounts from 150 to 15 for ease of accountability. This week, the authority introduced the e-cities services to enable payment of taxes and dues by mobile phone or through the Internet. KCCA is also revamping health centres in Kisenyi (now complete), Kiruddu, and Kawempe. It has also purchased five ambulances.

According to Musisi, KCCA under her leadership has also grown its asset net worth by almost Shs 300 billion through the recovery of misappropriated property, upgrading assets and acquiring high-value vehicles and equipment.

Musisi revealed some ambitious plans she says are in the pipeline, such as generation of biogas electricity from the KCCA landfill in Kiteezi, as well as construction of tracks for cable cars and trams. Others include making some roads boda boda-free and providing entrepreneurship training for youths.

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