23 May 2019

Uganda: New Cities Raise Great Expectations in Investments, Revenue

Kampala — Government will offer additional Shs57b to run the new cities to meet the new demands that come with creation of the cities.

Documents from the local government ministry indicate that while the nine municipalities which have been elevated to cities have been receiving Shs111b, an additional Shs57b will be required to run their operations.

The local government officials say once they start operations, the figures will rise to Shs168b. Government has already set aside Shs130b for the five cities that will start in 2020.

The minister of Local Government, Col Tom Butime, said funds will be available for the cities to start operations.

"Government will provide funds for the cities to take off in an organised and planned manner. The cities will further be facilitated to attract both internal and external funding for garbage management, ICT improvement, tourism/leisure facilities and security," Col Butime said.

He said the elevations will make the new cities attractive destinations for investment and more investors will flock in.

The minister said the cities were created for both strategic reasons and regional balancing. These range from industrial, tourism to mining. Under the strategic cities, Hoima, Jinja, Fort Portal and Entebbe were created. Others that are still under review and will be upgraded because of the same reasons are Nakasongola and Moroto.

Arua, Mbale, Mbarara, Gulu and Lira will serve as the regional cities and will be joined by Masaka, Wakiso, Soroti and Kabale.

Salaries

Mr Justinian Niwagaba, the Commissioner for Urban Administration at the local government ministry, said salary structures for the new cities will not be above the current public service rates. He said like the district officials, the city and division officials fall under the same categories.

"The salary structures are the same like the rest of the public service staff. These cities were created under the Local Government Act and therefore they will earn the same salaries like their other colleagues in the civil service," he said.

On the issue of increased cost of business that may come as result of the elevations, Mr Niwagaba said there is no cause for worry.

"It's even better because more people will be attracted and this will bring down the cost of rent and taxes, so the worry about high costs should not be there," he said.

Boundaries

A number of the cities have extended their boundaries, annexing some sub-counties from their mother districts, except Gulu city which has had its divisions merged to reduce the numbers from four to two.

Ayivu County was added to make Arua Central Division and Ayivu Division. Jinja city will have Jinja South and Jinja North. The City will comprise the current Municipality and Bugembe town council, Mafubira and Budondo sub-counties that were annexed from Jinja District.

Mbale Town has two divisions of Bungokho and Industrial Division. Bungokho Division comprises Northern Division, Nakaloke Town Council and the annexed neighbouring sub-counties of Bukonde, Nakaloke, Namabasa and Namanyonyi. Industrial Division has Bugema-Nauyo Town Council and Bukasakya and Bungokho-Mutoto sub-counties.

In Fort Portal, sub-counties of Karambi, Bukuuku, Karago Town Council and Ibaale were added to the current municipal boundaries to form Fort Portal North Division, while in Mbarara, sub-counties of Biharwe, Kakiika and Nyakayojo were added to the municipality.

How USMID programme elevated 9 municipalities to city status

The World Bank-funded Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) played a big role in preparing the nine municipalities to achieve city status, different municipality leaders say.

The programme worked on roads, developed taxi parks and a number of other infrastructure that the municipalities initially did not have.

Between 2013 and 2018, government spent $150m in 14 municipalities. Dilapidated and dusty roads that had never seen tarmac or had been in sorry state for several years finally received a facelift, giving the 14 municipalities a decent look, which aided their move towards city status.

Under the programme, a total of 73 urban roads that make up 39.09kms were rehabilitated to asphalt concrete standards, with walkways, bicycle lanes in order to cater for all road users in the urban centre.

The roads are also been fitted with solar lights to cater for safety and reduce on gender-based violence and crime that may crop up in the urban centres.

Drainage structures and greening to manage the climate change related risks like heat waves and heavy floods.1320 trees and 56,449m of grass and flowers have been planted along the road reserves to enhance beautification of the same. Trash cans have also been provided to reduce on the littering of the streets.

The 14 Municipal councils have been provided with specialised technical equipment in the area of engineering, physical planning, surveying and environment. The equipment include; Total stations, plotters, global positioning systems- GPS, computer and software (Arc GIS and Auto CAD), noise meter, water meter among others, all aimed at facilitating service delivery in the urban centre.

Nine of these municipalities have since been elevated to city status, while others are under study with possibilities of elevation in the next three years.

Mr Tom Buitme, the minister for Local Government, said the six municipalities of Masaka, Nakasongola, Moroto, Soroti, Kabale and Wakiso will be elevated to city status by 2023.

He said the studies are showing positive trends for the municipalities and are expected to be completed by the end of next years, thereafter, a report will be made to the Cabinet for onward consideration.

Ms Sheila Naturinda, the communications specialist at USMID, said the elevation of the nine municipalities to the city status is a testimony that they have done a commendable job in infrastructure development.

"USMID is proud to associate itself with the cities as created. The funding to these cities will remain the same and we are committed to ensuring that we accomplish our tasks," Ms Naturinda said.

"Apart from roads, USMID supports investments in bus, taxi and lorry parks, beautification of streets, markets, drainages, street lighting, development of solid waste management strategies, procurement of specialized equipment for environment, physical planning, surveying and engineering," she added.

She said under the next phase, more roads will be upgraded with the accompanying infrastructure.

What Jinja leaders say

Jinja Municipality Mayor, Majid Batambuze. "We are planning to elevate Kimaka Airport to an international standard, rehabilitate Rippon Port, which will connect to Mwanza in Tanzania, a transport terminal for both taxis and buses and an Industrial park in Mutai Village in Kakira Town Council. We have already started beautifying the city, we have put the road names to all the streets, and we are lighting up the city.

Abdallah Zein, Jinja Central Division Speaker. The rehabilitation of roads such as Main Street, Clive Road West under USMID have also greatly changed the image of our new city. Jinja being an old municipality, is well planned with municipality headquarters that will be turned into a city headquarters.

Henry Kyembe, former Jinja West Municipality MP. We have been waiting for Jinja for many years to be elevated to a city status, it is long overdue, I am happy at last and I hope it will boost tourism and industrial sector.

Reactions from Arua

Bernard Atiku, MP Ayivu County. As the city is endorsed, it comes with a demand for an international airport, for Arua's case, you do not need to emphasise this. Even with all the efforts we have done to convince the locals to move away and get compensated for the airport because we planned this for a city. The work is just too slow to believe. If Amin was here, Arua would have received an International Airport.

Christine Asibazuyo, a resident of Arua Municipality. While this is a dream come true, we cannot have a City with intermittent power supply. We need strong and steady power that can facilitate industries.

Issa Kato, Mayor Arua Municipality. We are prepared for the city because we already have roads within that have been done. Not only that the Muni University, the taxi park and market. And once we expand the territory of the municipality, we shall have increased revenue because currently we get inadequate tax from the two the divisions. And we shall ensure that the city is made clean with improved revenue.

Comments from Fort portal

Chris Amanyire, Butebe chairperson. Regional cities are not like the capital city. The capital city is a business hub but a regional city is created for a specific purpose.

Christine Kanyunyuzi, a businesswoman. Every development comes with challenges, especially to us who have small businesses. Taxes are going to increase to suit city standards and some of us will leave business because of taxes.

Fort Portal Municipality MP Alex Ruhunda. I have been sensitising the masses about the city and so this will continue until it is operational. The rest will be done by technical experts in implementing the new direction.

From Mbale

Mutwalibi Mafabi Zandya, Mayor of Mbale municipality. We welcome the decision and we are happy because we have been waiting for it for long but finally, we have got it. The town is ready because the road network is perfect. We have installed security and traffic lights and have the required population and all other requirements are in place.

Mr John Musila, a resident. There are going to be a lot of job opportunities for our youth in different fields more so in police and civil service.

What Mbarara says

Bright Muhumuza, politician. For me, the city is intended to serve political interests of the ruling party and solve political questions in the area. It is for political not economic reasons. I support it only when it's for economic reasons, when it's going to benefit everyone not the politicians' interests.

Vincent Kyamadidi, Resident of Kakiika Division. Personally I have no problem with urbanisation if it's well planned. But if it's unplanned, like we are doing it now, it's dangerous. You will impose burden on the people because they are not prepared. It should be from down to up so that people are well prepared, not from up as it is now.

Imam Shaffi Kagiko, councilor, Katete Ward. The leadership we have has not done well with resources we have been having. We need better leaders we expect to have polished leaders as a city. The leaders we have I don't see them ready to receive the city. They are accustomed to corruption and misappropriation of public resources, now that we will have bigger budget, it will worsen.

By Franklin Draku, Felix Warom Okello, Alfred Tumushabe, Tausi Nakato, Fred Wambede & Scovia Atuhaire.

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