Uganda's aging municipalities wanted a facelift badly.
And the World Bank funded Uganda Support for Municipal Infrastructure Development, USMID programme, provided just that for 14 municipalities in the first phase. Impressed by the work done in these municipalities; the World Bank has increased funding for the second phase of the USMID project from US $150 million to US $ 360 million.
The second phase, dubbed USMID-AF kicked off in April 2019 and will see the number of beneficiary municipalities increasing from 14 to 22 with eight refugee hosting districts included.
Speaking at a meeting of the Program Technical Committee (PTC) on Thursday in Entebbe, the minister of state for Urban Development, Isaac Musumba cautioned town clerks against abusing the programme. He said doing so would deny their municipalities improved services.
"The USMID project is very important because it works on the infrastructure in towns. You know the NRM government has spent a lot of money and effort in doing upcountry trunk roads and highways but it had not put emphasis on road infrastructure in the towns," Musumba said.
"The good thing with this project is that it improves the roads in towns, puts lights on these roads and works on the drainage channels to ensure that the lives of people in towns are improved. It also ensures that work in towns like markets and so on is more user friendly," he added.
He also congratulated the municipalities that participated in the first USMID project. He said they did a good job prompting the World Bank to increase funding.
While the first phase of the project was largely successful in most parts of the country, there were a few challenges at the implementation phase of the project. Delays in disbursing funding for the project by the world bank and government led to delays.
USMID project coordinator Isaac Mutenyo explained that some funds had to be returned by municipalities because under the Public Finance Management Act the responsibility of disbursing funds to all agencies of government lies with ministry of finance.
Dorcus Okalany, the permanent secretary, ministry of Local Government said municipalities, which will be elevated to cities won't be cut off the project. She said the fund is for elevating urban centres until they can sustain themselves.
"Even if you graduate to a city the programme will continue in your urban area because we are dealing with urban areas. It is fortunate that they were municipalities at the time and they benefited in fact, for those that are becoming cities, we are coming up with a legal framework on how they will operate. Like Kampala Capital City Authority has a law that governs it, we are putting in place a law to govern the cities which are upcoming," Okalany stressed.