Closure of 50 city arcades raises queries on building guidelines

Galiraaya Commercial Plaza in Downtown Kampala is among the arcades not recommended for reopening. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Owners of buildings with defects have been given corrective measures which have to be undertaken before re-inspection.

Government’s decision to close at least 50 arcades in the city centre has raised queries on lack of enforcement of construction standards by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

On Friday last week, the State Minister for Kampala, Mr Kyofatogabye Kabuye, issued a list of 127 arcades, which he said had met the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPS) while 70 of the arcades were still being assessed.

However, in the same press statement, he stated that at least 50 arcades were not recommended because they did not only have SOPs, but had also flouted building guidelines.

Mr Kabuye stated that the arcades lack building plans, adequate toilets, proper power connection, adequate running water, CCTV cameras, proper ventilation, and illegally converted parking or basements into shops.

The findings were compiled by Kampala City’s Covid-19 inspection teams, who were assigned by the minister to enforce the presidential directives on SOPs.

But the glaring building defects highlighted put KCCA on the spot because they are mandated to ensure coordinated planning in the capital city.

The authority has a fully-fledged directorate of physical planning, which is, among others, responsible for planning, designing and managing city physical infrastructure, including the zoning, land sub-division and demarcating areas for development.

The directorate also guides the authority on the urban design, infrastructural improvement and land development in the city, and also oversees development across the five divisions in the city.

From the defects highlighted, it means owners of buildings in question either overlooked construction guidelines or altered plans which they acquired from KCCA.

Mr Daniel Nuwabiine,  the KCCA head of public and corporate affairs, acknowledged the violation of construction guidelines but added that developers had taken advantage of the authority’s enforcement gaps to alter construction plans.

“We found out that developers had illegally made modifications from the original plans which we gave them. Therefore, all the defects must be worked on before they can be allowed to reopen,” he told Daily Monitor yesterday.

However, he couldn’t explain why KCCA closed the arcades yet some of them had been in existence for more than five years.

Some of the landlords of closed arcades, who preferred anonymity for fear of being victimised, dismissed the claims that they flouted construction guidelines.

They said the same arcades had been operating for a long time without interference from the authority.
“Have they just realised the defects now? Who approved the building plans? KCCA should stop frustrating landlords and traders because the approval of building plans is a mandate of KCCA. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense for them to raise the issues now yet they are the same people who approved our plans,” he said.

Though he acknowledged that some landlords alter construction plans, he accused KCCA of failing to carry out inspections yet they have teams which are supposed to monitor all developments across the city.

Mr Kabuye said owners of non-compliant buildings have been served with non-compliant notices that detail the corrective measures which have to be undertaken before re-inspection.

“The inspection teams will be ready to go back to the buildings that seek re-inspection for clearance to open upon notification of the Town Clerk by the property proprietor or administrator,’’ the minister wrote.

Traders’ plea

The chairperson of Kampala Arcade Traders Association (Kata), Mr Godfrey Katongole, asked government to allow landlords rectify the defects.

“We will carry out our own inspection starting tomorrow (today) for at least one week and write a report to the President about this crisis. Traders are stuck at home and have no money to eat yet their shops are closed,’’ Mr Katongole said.

Arcades Not Recommended for re-pening

No  Arcade
1    Mabirizi City Plaza
2    God’s Grace
3    Qualicel house
4    ""AMINA"" William Street
5    Sky Light
6    Mulima Muyuni Arcade
7    Nakasero Complex
8    Katonga Business center
9    Star Shoppers
10    Soweto Arcade
11    Arrow Complex
12    Majestic Plaza
13    Old Park Royal
14    Smile Investments
15    Fidodo Building
16    Sembatya Arcade
17    Boost House
18    Platinum House
19    Braiden Plaza
20    Edmul Building
21    Gaza Land
22    Mutasa Kafero
23    Down Town Investment
24    Plot 67 Kampala road
25    Zam Zam Bussiness center
26    Masaka Jubille House
27    Naiga Chambers
28    Gagawala Building
29    City Complex
30    Galiraaya Commercial Plaza
31    Kalungi Plaza
32    Kirumira towers
33    Mutasa Kafero
34    Peacock Building
35    Ambassador House
36    Energy center
37    Kherm Building
38    Sayuuni Arcade
39    Zebra House
40    Capital Center
41    Elite Apartments/ Meera Invst
42    Jambole Arcade
43    Nabukera Plaza
44    Sedona Complex
45    Musa Printer Industry
46    Titanic Plaza
47    Kizito Towers
48    Center Point
49    Zainabu Plaza
50    Sunset arcade