Uganda: Lwengo, Kalungu Leaders Finally Endorse Masaka City Status Bid

Leaders of Lwengo and Kalungu have finally endorsed a proposal to annex some parts of the two districts to form Masaka city.

Earlier, leaders in the districts were hesitant to endorse the proposal, arguing that despite supporting the elevation of Masaka Municipality to city status, municipal authorities had not formally engaged them on the matter.

To attain city status, the Local Government minister, Mr Tom Butime, in June tasked Masaka Municipality leaders to meet key structural prerequisites that include, among others, having a minimum population of at least 300,000 people and land area measuring 100 square kilometers.

These pre-conditions required Masaka leaders to have the entire district turned into a city or extend the municipality boundaries into neighbouring districts.

Lwengo District councillors were the first to endorse annexation of Kingo Sub-county to the proposed Masaka city on August 8 and were joined by their counterparts in Kalungu on Friday.

Kingo Sub-county comprises six parishes; Kagganda, Kasaana, Kisansala, Kiteredde, Nkoni and Ssenya .

In Kalungu, some parishes in Kalungu Rural Sub-county that have become part of Masaka include Kasanje, Villa- Maria, Kibiisi and Kaliiro.

During a special council meeting at Kalungu District headquarters on Friday, the district speaker, Mr Abdul Bbaale, said he was optimistic that the annexed areas will enable Masaka Municipality to achieve the minimum population of 300,000 required by government to grant Masaka a city status.

The motion to annex parts of Kalungu to Masaka was moved by Kalungu District chairperson Richard Kyabaggu and unanimously supported by all the 19 councillors.

Move praised

"What we have done today [Friday] is a clear manifestation that we back the proposal for city status. There was no way we could frustrate Masaka Municipality from benefiting from the numerous development opportunities that come along with the city as some selfish politicians have been saying," Mr Bbaale said.

The meeting was also attended by Masaka Municipality Mayor Godfrey Kayemba and Lwengo District chairperson George Mutabaazi .

Mr Mutabaazi commended Kalungu leaders for supporting Masaka's bid for city status, saying it would spur development in the sub-region.

The move comes weeks after Masaka District leaders pursued the idea of pushing for the entire district to be turned into a city, claiming that leaders in Lwengo and Kalungu districts had refused to support the annexation of their areas to the municipality.

In June, Minister Butime gave Masaka municipal authorities two weeks to ensure that they secure resolutions from both Lwengo and Kalungu endorsing annexation of part of their areas.

However, the ultimatum elapsed before the two districts passed the resolutions, which prompted Masaka District chairperson Jude Mbabaali to convince all sub-county council leaders in the district to pass resolutions so as to achieve minimum population of 300,000 required by government to grant a municipality a city status.

But this proposal caused mixed reactions among Masaka leaders, with some saying turning the entire district into a city means Masaka will cease to exist on the map of Uganda.

City status plans

Other six municipalities that will be elevated to cities effective July 1 next year are Arua, Mbale Gulu, Jinja, Fort Portal, and Mbarara.

The conditions to qualify for a city status include having well-developed structural and physical plans, proper garbage and waste management, development plans, competence in management of public funds, good roads, enough water sources and capacity to meet the cost of delivering required services for the population, among others.

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