Fort Portal City struggles with funding shortage

Fort Portal Tourism City centre.  Authorities say they are yet to receive start-up funds. PHOTO ALEX ASHABA

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Authorities said the Shs21b was meant to cater for three municipality divisions then, but with the elevation to city status, some areas were annexed to the city resulting in the formation of another division; North

It is almost 10 months since Fort Portal Municipality was elevated to a tourism city but it is still grappling with poor service delivery due to limited funding.

The city leaders told Daily Monitor that since July last year, they have not received any funds for operationalisation of the city.

The leaders revealed that they are instead operating on the Shs21b municipality budget for 2020/2021 financial year, which they say is insufficient.

Authorities said the Shs21b was meant to cater for three municipality divisions then, but with the elevation to city status, some areas were annexed to the city resulting in the formation of another division; North.

Currently, Fort Portal City has two divisions; North and Central.

Initial plans

The interim city mayor, the Rev Kintu Willy Muhanga, said they had initially planned to install street lights in the whole city in the first year of operation to ensure security at night.

“We used to rely on local revenue collected by the municipality but since 2019, the central government took it over. We would collect between Shs1.5bto Shs2b in a given financial year. It is now the central government to determine what to send back,” he said.

 Rev Muhanga added: “We were meant to receive Shs400m in the first quarter of this financial year but we have not received any money.”

 “Last year, we heard that Parliament allocated Fort Portal City Shs9b for start-up but we have not received any money,” he said.

He explained that the local revenue was used for general cleaning of the town, constructing roads and garbage collection, among others.

According to Mr Muhanga, Fort Portal City needs about Shs50b to be fully functional. Since elevation, Fort Portal City has received a resident city clerk and his deputy and elected leaders for the city at all divisions.

The  interim city mayor  also revealed that they have a challenge of  waste management, adding that due to a shortage  of funds, the firm contracted to manage Kiteere garbage disposal plant has not been paid.

The 21 workers at Kiteere garbage plant have laid down their tools over non-payment for the last four months and the plant has since been closed.

Ms Rose Twikirize, a worker at the garbage plant, said they will not resume work until they are paid.

 “Every month, we are entitled to Shs120, 000 as salary but  it is now four months since we were last got paid. Whenever we inquire they tell us that the city has no money,” Ms Twikirize said.

Fort Portal established Kiteere garbage disposal site, about 15Kms from the city where all garbage collected is dumped and the biodegradable ones recycled into manure.

When contacted on Monday, Mr Francis Aliganyira, the garbage management contractor, said he was hired in November 2020 and his contract runs up to June but he has not been paid.

Fort Portal City is supposed to pay the company Shs5.8m per month for the eight-month contract.

Meanwhile,   a total of 63 Central Division councillors, who were restructured during the creation of Fort Portal City, led by Mr Gilbert Kayondo and Ms Eunice Habomugisha have threatened to sue government and the city.

Mr Innocent Ahimbisibwe, the city clerk, said councillors who are demanding their sitting allowances have since July last year not  sat for council or any committee meeting thus cannot be paid.

In February 2020, city authorities embarked on the rehabilitation of roads in the city centre under the Shs422m road fund.

However, last year the contract was terminated over failure to complete the works in time.

The roads which have not been completed include Ruhandiika Street and Kaboyo roads that are in the middle of the city.

Last month, the business community protested and blocked the roads over dust.

Road fund

Rev Muhanga said since the 2019/2020 financial year, the road fund budget was reduced from Shs3 billion to Shs700m.

Due to the reduction in the budget, they have been forced to reduce the number of workers assigned to maintain roads.

Last year, Fort Portal City made a short fall of more than Shs500m in local revenue collection from the month of April to June.

Amidst the challenge of limited funding, Mr Ahimbisibwe said they are struggling to extend services as they await funding in the next financial year.

 The Minister for Local Government, Mr Raphael Magezi, in the previous months during a visit to Kabarole District, said the government released money to Fort Portal City but he did not disclose how much.

He also directed the accounting officers to pay emoluments of councillors who were affected.


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