House moves to create 15 new cities

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Mbale Town has renovated roads and installed street lights in readiness for city status

It is all systems go as Parliament asks for final details to aid the creation of 15 new cities across the country.

The proposed cities are Arua, Mbarara, Gulu, Jinja, Fort Portal, Mbale, Masaka, Wakiso, Entebbe, Hoima, Lira, Moroto, Nakasongola, Soroti and Kabale.

In a statement to Parliament, Local Government Minister, Col Tom Butime said the cities will accelerate urbanisation.

“With the new local government cities coming onboard, the cities will attract direct investment and international support for infrastructure to address the strategic urban agenda,” said Butime.

Victoria University

His motion, however, wasn’t without controversy.

Shadow Attorney General, Hon Wilfred Niwagaba differed, demanding instead a clear definition of the boundaries “to avoid confusion.”

“In order for us to deal with this motion without the violation of article 63 of the constitution, we need to know the division and parishes forming these cities,” said Niwagaba.

MP Medard Ssegona (DP, Busiro East) agreed.

Ssegona said in the case of Wakiso district, there has been inadequate consultation, saying locals are opposed to the creation of two cities in Wakiso, but instead want the entire district be declared a city.

While there was unanimity on the need to create the cities, areas without boundary controversies wanted the creation to take place, except that those areas with problems could be put on hold.

Members, however, disagreed.

Instead, ruled Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, the Ministry of Local Government will be given two days to present a complete motion; replete with the boundaries of each city, and that each city will be considered on its own merit.

This ruling was the golden stroke that reconciled those who wanted the motion to pass straight away, and those who were cautious.

According to Minister Butime’s timeline, by 01July 2020, the people of Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Mbale and Masaka will welcome their cities.

Then in July  2021, it will be Hoima’s turn to get the city, while 2022 will see the coming of Entebbe and Lira, with the rest of the proposed cities having to wait till 2023.

Cities have a direct charge on the Consolidated Fund and have their specific votes, through which funds for social services and infrastructure are directly channeled.

Butime said the cities’ coming into force plays perfectly well in the vision 2040 scheme of things.

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