KCCA tribunal was an evaluation opportunity but will it unite city
Posted Friday, September 27 2013 at 01:00
Whatever conclusions it may draw, the city tribunal proceedings illumined Ugandan minds on much more than the Lord Mayor’s conduct, which was the petitioners’ grievance.
The protagonist never budged but reiterated the magnitude of his famous three points namely; constitution of full council, PAC and the Urban Planning authority as provided by law. The latter is the hallmark of the new dispensation destined to manage and hopefully shield physical planning from politics thus in essence distinguishing Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) from Kampala City Council.
f the many municipal services ranging from probation, sanitation, housing and others, two primary responsibilities stand out as the legs on which any municipality stands, moves and is judged. These are; i) city law and ii) works, traffic & physical planning. In modern day advanced cities, these functions are managed and led by certified technocrats as opposed to appointed generalists because of their complexity and importance.
By this paradigm, the London Greater Authority (on which KCCA is modelled) for instance, coordinates land use planning for a conurbation of 1,579 square kilometers through three functional bodies working with 32 service providing Boroughs.
Kampala’s hope for advancement actually lies in sections 21 & 22 of the much criticised KCCA Act (that no doubt needs revisiting); a crucial amendment here is that “the minister should receive professional advice from the architects’ and engineers’ associations and select from their nominees in appointing the Metropolitan Physical Planning Authority”.
Given the wide range of practitioners’ qualifications, multifaceted nature of municipal engineering involving aspects of different engineering disciplines and the need for collaboration, the city authority should escalate to national level.
In order to formalise professional practice standards, certify and license municipal engineers, urban planners and practicing firms nationwide as is the norm in advanced municipalities.
It should continuously arrange apprenticeships and attachments for young professionals to more developed cities to build a workforce of authentic municipal engineers and urban planners that will manage the current urbanisation trend in Africa for Uganda, which is now entirely a planning area.
With the higher issues tucked away, focus is drawn to conjecture, mainly on whether KCCA, with all its power centres, still needs a supreme leader (ruler) or is merely suffering a mismatch of human egos. Downplaying the current showdown while blaming it on the Lord Mayor’s conduct, the Kampala minister, for instance, argued that a city director need not to consult on rebranding! For a settlement well more than 100 years old, holding a municipal charter for more than 50 years with elected representatives, seal, coat of arms and regalia derived from its nature, history and heritage, surely KCCA is much more than mission-focused corporations like NSSF or URA that also need board approvals for key decisions.
Kawempe mayor Mubarak Munyagwa whose submission was expunged, comically described Kampala’s clock tower as “dismantled”, causing laughter in the tribunal that disregarded his point on abuse of city monuments. Unlike clock tower that became an advertising platform without consulting council, structures like the Eiffel tower, statue of liberty of liberty or Nairobi’s KCC tower, are preserved iconic emblems that give cities character. It takes due consultation and approval to put them to complimentary use like hosting communication gadgets.
The value addition capacity of councillors to KCCA is also generally wanting considering the apparent difficulty of expression and lack of confidence exhibited at the tribunal. The choice of demanding a fit and proper person test for electoral candidates by the commission in future or to merely leaving city affairs in the hands of good mobilisers that can win votes entirely lies with the people.
But in as far as it can be said, their choice of a steadfast Lord Mayor unwaveringly committed to promoting their interests even when dragged through the mud seems correct.
Mr Sebalu is a former city councillor and Finance Secretary. firstname.lastname@example.org