Jinja. Jinja District council has endorsed the elevation of the entire district to a city status instead of a small area. The motion was proposed by the district leader of government business, Ms Florence Asio, during a council meeting at the District Council Hall last Friday.
The meeting, chaired by the district Speaker, Mr Michael Musana, received overwhelming support from all councillors.
“The Local Government Act Cap 243 section 7 (2a) mandates the minister, with the approval of Parliament, to declare an urban area a city in accordance with paragraph 32 of the Third Schedule of the Local Government Act,’’ Ms Asio said.
She added: “A city shall be equivalent to the district and therefore exercise all functions and powers conferred upon District Council within its area of jurisdiction. Section 4 (b) further states that a City Division shall be equivalent to a municipality and Section 4 (c) of the Local Government Act also states that a Municipal Division and a Town shall be equivalent to a sub-county.’’
According to Ms Asio, the city will comprise Kagoma, Butembe and Jinja municipalities.
“In line with the above, I beg to move that this Council considers and approves recommendation to the minister to declare Jinja District a city comprising of Kagoma, Butembe and Jinja City Division/ Municipality,” she said.
Ms Asio said the proposal was made following a consultation with different stakeholders, including all the lower local councils, area Members of Parliament (MPs) and district executive committee.
The chairman of Bugembe Town Council, Mr Steven Wante, said as a council, they agreed to be part of the city area but his worries are on those from the rural areas who were reportedly not consulted.
“We have areas like Buwenge Rural and Butagaya Sub-county where residents are not used to the urban life; it will be difficult for them to get used yet it would have been easier in case they were consulted. It is like moving someone straight from the village to London,’’ he said.
The proposal was turned into a resolution that is to be sent to Parliament for debate and possible approval.
The councillors, led by the district vice chairperson, believe turning the entire district into a city will solve the under population problem.
Earlier, the municipal authorities wanted part of the district to be elevated to a city. However, this has been impossible due to a population of less than 500,000 people.
Jinja Municipality mayor Majid Batambuze said: “The way to transform Uganda into a middle-income status country is to do urbanisation. I am very happy today that the district council has passed this resolution to turn the entire district into a city because we have been pushing for it and it was in my manifesto.”
He added that the creation of Jinja City will improve infrastructure, education, tourism and create employment opportunities.
Jinja has since July 2006, when it celebrated 50 years as a municipality and 100 years as a town, been agitating for its elevation to a city but fallen short because of its failure to meet one of the four preconditions set by the central government (to become a city).
The four preconditions include; capacity to meet the cost of service delivery, enough water sources, having a master plan in place and having a population of over 500,000. The Council has now agreed to turn the entire district into a city.
When contacted, the local government permanent secretary, Mr Benjamin Kumumanya, said government recently, directed the ministry to start processing areas which will be elevated into city status under the National Development Plan (NDPII).
“Jinja and other areas, had earlier sent their resolution to the ministry but they were missing some requirements. Let me hope that this time they have fulfilled everything that is needed to be turned into a city status because it will be an added advantage to them,’’ he said.
In April 2015, government announced a new policy that would see six upgraded to regional cities. These include Jinja, Mbale, Arua, Mbarara, Fort Portal and Gulu.