Commentary

Rules alone can’t secure road reserves

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By Simon J. Mone

Posted  Thursday, May 8   2014 at  01:00
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Urban areas in Uganda are fast developing. This has led to demand for housing and business premises. As a result, people have established structures closer to the roads.

The growth of such structures do not, however, follow regulatory requirements for prohibited land such as road reserves. Such constructions usually start as kiosks but are later upgraded to permanent structures. This practice has gone on for many years, meaning regulations that are already in place are being breached. The result is that many illegal developments have been put up in prohibited areas.

Constructing in gazetted areas alters urban planning and yet relocating people from these areas is not cost effective. Follow up of developments in communities to ascertain if they adhere to regulations are not rigorous, and deterrent actions on encroachers are non-existent.
For proper development and expansion of towns, proper and early planning is mandatory. This calls for respect of legal requirements by both government and the public. Kampala has experienced numerous developments, especially in the estates sector. Many unplanned structures have been approved irregularly. The absence of regulatory enforcement has encouraged impunity and construction of permanent structures on reserves has impeded improvements of road infrastructure.

A quick solution is to start encouraging developers to plan for construction of high-rise structures to ease the pressure on gazetted land.
Also, consultations with communities have not been able to effectively eliminate encroachment. Communities are still not aware of existing policies and laws governing settlements along roads. The roads Act provisions requiring no activity to be placed in any area inside 15 meters from the centre either side of the road have not been well enforced.

Therefore, in addition to sensitising communities, government should publish reserved road boundaries for all road categories - national, district and community access roads and also duly enforce them.

Availing this information to all stakeholders will facilitate speedy and orderly development and approval process of such developments. It helps intending developers to get requisite awareness beforehand that enables them to make informed decisions about proposed developments.