Uganda: Private Developers to Take Over Jinja Gardens

Jinja Central Division leaders have unveiled a plan to privatise three public gardens in the municipality due to lack of funds to develop them.

Ms Vickie Kakaire, the division environment officer, at the weekend said the affected gardens are Nile, Ripon and Hajji Tarmac.

Ms Kakaire said some development had started on the gardens, including constructing toilets, walkways, seats, and planting trees but they stalled.

"The new government policy where the revenue is first remitted to the central government and later returned to council has greatly affected service delivery . So when the little money comes, we have to think of what to do rather than fund main projects," she said.

Ms Kakaire added that other plans, including maintaining the gardens and hiring them out were affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The Covid-19 lockdown has also turned the gardens into criminal dens because people who slash them cannot come to work due to adherence to Ministry of Health directives," she added.

Ripon and Nile gardens do not have functional toilets while some residents use them as garbage dumping sites .

Mr Paul Kisira, the chairperson of Ripon Village, welcomed the idea of privatising the gardens, saying it will promote environment and security.

Mr Kisira said several residents have been robbed and raped while passing through the spaces between 7pm and 8pm.

He, however, expressed fears that the development may be hindered by politicking.

Mr Kisira said previously, village chairpersons got 25 per cent from the council for maintaining the gardens but since the pandemic started in March, there has been no slashing.

"I have written several letters to Jinja Central Council asking them to install solar lights in the garden but nothing has been done. As local leaders, our hands are tied," he said.

Mr Abdallah Zein, the division speaker, said the proposal may end up in the hands of land grabbers.

"I heard about the council decision to privatise the gardens; however, the good thing is that we are left with a few days for Jinja to become a city, that means there are going to be structural development changes," Mr Zein said.

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