Owners of dirty houses face Shs2m fine, jail term

Friday October 30 2020

A child crosses a drainage channel in Katanga, Kampala. Government has made a law stating that owners of shabby buildings will be punished for being untidy. Photo | File.

By Juliet Kigongo
By Betty Ndagire

The government, through the amended National Physical Planning Act 2020, has now made it an offence to own a house whose exterior is dirty and is not regularly painted.

The Act gives the Physical Planning Board headed by Ms Amanda Ngabirano more powers to carry out a number of actions intended to have an orderly development and a well-planned clean and healthy environment.

“It is now an offence to have one’s house look untidy, unattractive and dirty because it affects the aesthetics of the whole area,” the amended Physical planning law reads in part.

If found guilty, one is liable to a fine of Shs2m or imprisonment of not more than one year or both.
The amended law also makes it mandatory for every premise to have a litter bin or garbage bin for proper disposal of rubbish. This means people who throw rubbish through car windows or commercial agricultural transporters who litter roads, shall be subjected to the aforementioned fines.

“The law now creates a legal duty on every Ugandan to create, maintain and enhance a well-planned environment. To that effect, it grants a right to anybody whether directly threatened by a breach of physical planning development or planning standard to report to relevant authorities or file a suit directly,” the Physical Planning law further states.

“This is revolutionary, it means if you are travelling from Kampala to Arua and you see someone building in a road reserve or wetland or protected area in Karuma, you can complain or commence civil proceedings directly. It does not matter that you do not live in Karuma.”


Ms Ngabirano, during a visit to the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo at his chambers in Kampala yesterday, explained that the new board she is heading needed a raft of these amendments if they are to have well-planned cities and environment. 

The enforcement of the amendments will primarily be overseen by parish and sub-county chiefs.
The police, too, will help in the enforcement.

“The implementation of these measures has been put in the hands of the Parish and sub-county chiefs to support the planners. These local chiefs are now agents of the physical planning board and are to ensure support in implementation of these new measures,” Ms Ngabirano said.

Highlights from the law

• Order for demolition of any building or structure constructed in contravention of the physical planning and building standards.
• Any building erected in road reserves, wetlands, and public spaces will be demolished on orders of the board
• The law makes it mandatory for every home to have a litter bin or garbage bin. 
• Every house must have its exterior painted regularly.