Mbarara law enforcement staff on the spot over illegal structures 

Part of Mbarara city as viewed from Buremba road. PHOTOs/RAJAB MUOKOMBOZI

What you need to know:

  • Mr Abdallah Kiiza, a resident of Kajogo, says law enforcement officers will permit construction of such structures when the owners pay bribes.

Mbarara is one of the fastest-growing cities in Uganda and has attracted many investments in all aspects of life.

However, illegal structures are being constructed without the approval of the planning authority, affecting the city’s master plan.

Such structures are being constructed at the weekend and during public holidays.

Our investigations reveal that new illegal structures continue to come up, especially in city suburbs despite a commitment by the leadership to fight the vice.

This is done with the full knowledge of law enforcement officers in connivance with some city staff.

Our reporters found one of the structures in Kajogo, a suburb in Kakiika Ward, Mbarara North Division, which was constructed and completed in three days, that is between May 10 and Sunday, May 12. Interestingly, the city enforcement team visited the site on the second day. However, the project went on.

Mr Abdallah Kiiza, a resident of Kajogo, says law enforcement officers will permit construction of such structures when the owners pay bribes.

“Why do you think these structures are constructed during weekends and on public holidays? That is the advice they get from the enforcement team after getting bribes,” he says.

Mr Jomo Mugabi, the Mbarara South Division mayor, admits that the enforcement team extorts money from developers.

“We are aware that some of our people extort money from developers and we have been dealing with them according to the law. If any building has been put up illegally, we have options of taking them to court, fining them, or demolishing their buildings,” Mr Mugabi says. However, Mr Assy Abireebe, the Mbarara City Town Clerk, says they are not aware of the vice.

“We have sensitised the local communities about the right procedures to construct buildings but we are also going to investigate the allegations against our enforcement officers and if they are found to be true, they will be reprimanded,” he says.

He adds: “It is the role of the enforcement team to move around the city while inspecting the structures as they effect compliance. In principle, every structure should have a plan. Those without building plans, we shall stop the construction process.”

The Mayor of Mbarara City, Mr Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi, acknowledged that the town agents and enforcement officers are frustrating their efforts to get rid of illegal structures in the city.

“We know they are taking bribes and not advising residents on how to put up developments. But we have also advised residents not to give bribes to these people because, at the end of it all, we will arrest them and demolish their structures,” he said.

He added that getting a building plan is now easy. “In one week you will have a building plan, depending on the building you are putting up. It can go between Shs800,000 and Shs1 million,” he said.