Members of Parliament yesterday rejected a motion by government on creation of cities, citing poor preparation.
The motion moved by the Minister for Local Government, Mr Tom Butime, had sought creation of 15 new cities across the country over a four-year period.
Whereas lawmakers said the idea of creating the cities was generally acceptable, they were suspicious of the hasty manner in which the government presented its request, especially with many proposals falling short on boundary demarcations.
MPs from both the Opposition and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party unanimously agreed to have the matter deferred to Thursday, to allow Mr Butime consult and report back with clear details relating to boundaries of every division. Mr Butime had told the House that some cities such as Nakasongola, Soroti and Wakiso lacked clear demarcations for proposed divisions, and they awaited “further consultations.”
He said he was ready to proceed with Arua, Gulu, Entebbe and Mbarara.
But Mr Medard Lubega Sseggona (DP, Busiro East) and Wilfred Niwagaba (Ind, Ndorwa East) resisted, pointing the government to the need for a clean process.
“We seem to have agreed unanimously that in principle, we need these cities; but we need to be clear on how we proceed. We need not over rush, we need not over delay,” Mr Sseggona said.
“My view is that we cannot be ready when we are not ready. We need at least two days to help the minister to come up with a detailed and clean motion which we all support,” Mr Sseggona added.
Citing Entebbe City for instance, Mr Sseggona said Busiro South Constituency represented by Mr Peter Sematimba (NRM) would be swallowed up because almost all its composition is part of the proposed city.
He also said there are several risks associated with turning counties into divisions, more so without the involvement of area leaders.
Then Mr Niwagaba tasked the minister to state the boundaries for Kabale-City North and Kabale City South. Mr Butime ran out of words.
Mr Jacob Oulanyah, the presiding officer of the day, pushed the matter to Thursday.
He said it was apparent that “the situation in the room is making no headway” especially given that the minister’s motion lacked specifics.
He advised that while returning, Mr Butime should “present a complete list of cities and their boundary demarcations.”
“Those details about the boundaries must be laid to Parliament to enable members to follow,” Mr Oulanyah said.
About the cities
The government intends to create 15 cities of which seven; Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Mbale and Masaka become effective July 2020. The rest will be operationalised between 2021 and 2023.
Mr Butime implored Parliament to support the creation of the cities which will act as a vehicle for enhanced service delivery and quick infrastructure development as well as rapid urbanisation, all which point to the Uganda Vision 2040.
He, however, dismissed fears that the rapid creation of cities and respective divisions was for political purposes.
“The actual constituencies will be mapped out by the Electoral Commission, and not my ministry,” said Mr Butime.