Municipalities that will be attaining city status from midnight tonight are reportedly planning to usher in the new status with pomp and fanfare and understandably so.
We reported last week that some municipalities such as Jinja had planned a series of activities that would climax with fireworks and merrymaking at the stroke of midnight.
On April 28, Parliament – during a special plenary sitting - approved the creation of 15 new cities. Of these, seven municipalities will attain city status effective tonight. They include Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Masaka, and Mbale.
The other cities, which will start later, are Hoima, Lira, Soroti, Entebbe, Moroto, Nakasongola, Kabale, and Wakiso.
We would like to congratulate the new cities upon the achievement even as some government officials fear this creation will weigh down the government’s wage bill.
For instance, the State Minister for Minerals, Ms Sarah Opendi, voted against the motion approving the creation, arguing that government had not yet given a detailed report on how to save the economy from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and that it would not be good to create cities that would require more expenditure even as government struggled to fund town councils.
“We borrowed €600m (about Shs2.5 trillion) to finance our Budget. I vote no,” Ms Opendi said.
The minister’s concerns aside, residents in the given cities are all excited with the development and we hope it will be beneficial to them.
Although it may just be a change of name, a city means there is definitely going to be more people coming to do business, they will have administratively defined boundaries, more political representation locally and in Parliament, and hopefully those areas will have extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, and others.
However, our call is that even amid the excitement and celebrations in those mentioned towns, let us not lower the guard against the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has brought economies around the world to their knees.
We have reported, like in yesterday’s edition, that many traders and shoppers downtown Kampala, were not following the social distancing guidelines even as community cases spike. We should not take things for granted.
Congratulations upon attaining the new status, but enjoy responsibly.
All that those planning celebrations tonight ought to know is that many countries across the world have recorded rise in cases after they reopened markets, social places and allowed mass gatherings.