Bombo leaders renew demand for municipality

A poster erected by a group of people in support of a municipality status in Bombo Town on Kampala -Gulu highway in Luweero District. PHOTO BY DAN WANDERA

Luweero- In the 1970s before the fall of Idd Amin’s government, Bombo enjoyed a municipality status.

However, in 1995 before the election of the Constituency Assembly (CA) Delegates, the leaders received a communication from the Local Government ministry that they were not supposed to have a municipality’ representative to the CA.

“This was a big blow because the letter signed by then Local Government minister Jaberi Bidandi Ssali in 1996 did not explain why government had decided to relegate Bombo to a town council status,” Mr Ismail Dabule, an elder and former Bombo municipal councillor, says during a recent interview.

“You know the administrative privileges a municipality enjoys are both political and economic. This possibly explains the feelings among the Nubians and the entire Bombo community who still describe the decision as unfair,” he adds.

Mr Dabule says the decision meant that Bombo would not be represented since it had become a town council.
As a result, residents blame the town’s slow development on that administrative decision.

About the town
Located on Kampala-Luweero highway, Bombo Town is home to one of Uganda’s oldest military garrisons and also the home of the Nubian community in Uganda.
The town, which bore the brunt of hostility after the fall of Amin’s regime in 1979, still bears some significant features.
The de-roofed buildings are still a common site. Some of the buildings were bombed by government soldiers targeting Amin’s fleeing soldiers believed to have belonged to a foreign legion.

The residents who speak Kakwa, Lugbara and Nubian languages were targeted. Many were forced to flee into exile.
“We met President Museveni to express our feelings about the manner in which the municipality status we enjoyed for about 20 years was withdrawn. During the two meetings we had with him, the President instructed his officers to see how to handle this issue. We have never received any communication since then,” Mr Dabule says.

However, Mr Dabule, who is now the Bombo NRM party chairperson, is optimistic that the town will be re-elevated to municipality status.
“We have schools, the UPDF land forces headquarters, and two health centre III facilities, including a hospital. We also have piped water, good roads among other infrastructure,” he says.

Mr Ahmed Abdul, a resident, says after losing the municipality status, they started looking at themselves as ‘second class citizens’ who had no right to question government’s decision.

“Bombo is not made up of Nubians alone. We have several other ethnic groups,” Mr Abdul says.
He says the dissenting voices from the Nubian community treat the decision by government to relegate Bombo to a town council with suspicion.

“Nubians in Bombo could have been victims of malice and a misjudgment and wrongly accused of supporting Amin whose government was accused of gross abuse of human rights,” Mr Abdul says.

After the fall of Amin, several members of the Nubian community, who had genuinely worked and acquired wealth, lost it.
Their property was looted and many Nubians who fled into exile were denied refugee status.

According to Fadhul Muhammad Khemis, a resident of Mpakawelo Zone in Bombo Town Council, at one time, several Nubians who had fled to Kenya were bundled up onto waiting buses and brought back to Uganda in the early 1980s.

While the Obote government supplied relief items to communities affected by the 1979 war which saw Amin over thrown, the Nubians of Bombo were ignored.

After the takeover of government by the NRA, several rehabilitation programmes were rolled out for the different parts of the country which had been affected by the war but Bombo was excluded.

“We don’t know whether the exclusion was intentional because the good infrastructure, including roads and the good schools had been destroyed during the five-year liberation war was never rehabilitated yet other areas in Luweero, including the schools, among other infrastructure destroyed during the war, were rehabilitated,” Mr Kemis says.

The fact that government stopped residents from fronting candidates for election as representative to the CA because the town had been relegated to a town council left several unanswered questions.

The Nubian Advocacy Group coordinator, Mr Musa Muzamil, says the Bombo Nubian Community, is concerned that government has not addressed some of the salient issues affecting the people of Bombo who deserve equal treatment like any other Ugandans.

Government reaction
However, the Local Government Minister, Mr Tom Butime, said he was not aware that Bombo Town was once a municipality.
He advised the Bombo Town Council leaders to use the known channels stipulated by the Local Government Act Cap 243 to push for a municipality status instead of lamenting and putting up posters which may not help.

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