Speaker raises red flag on Kampala floods

What you need to know:

  • Government Chief Whip Hamson Obua promised to relay the message to the respective minister for Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs, a position currently held by Ms Minsa Kabanda.

Amidst the recurrent floods in the country’s capital, Kampala City, which doubles as a central business hub, Speaker Anita Among has asked for a detailed report on the matter.

She made the directive while presiding over an afternoon plenary sitting on Wednesday, a session that was also attended by Opposition Members of Parliament, who had previously boycotted sittings as they waited for the Executive to deliver a statement on human rights violations, as well as address issues of missing Opposition supporters.  The return of the Opposition for the sittings follows the Executive’s eventual responses to their concerns on November 29.

“When you talk about climate change, government Chief Whip, I want a serious report on the flooding in Kampala. If you go to Namasuba now [reference to whenever it rains], Busega, Forest Mall, Namboole, it is terrible. Can we have your ministers responsible to bring a report on that?” Ms Among said.

Government Chief Whip Hamson Obua promised to relay the message to the respective minister for Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs, a position currently held by Ms Minsa Kabanda.

The Speaker’s directive to the government came in shortly before the House began processing a $325 million (about Shs1.2 trillion) loan request, accompanied with a grant of $25 million (about 94 billion) from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group to finance the Uganda Climate Smart Agricultural Transformation Project.  The loan proposal was beefed up with a report from the Committee on National Economy that was presented by the Committee’s deputy chairperson, Mr Robert Ndugwa Migadde, the Buvuma Islands County MP.

He said while agriculture remains the single most important sector to get households out of poverty, it is greatly affected by climate change variability, resulting in reduced land resilience, increased incidences of drought and floods, intensified by unavailable or inadequate early warning systems.

The Uganda Climate Smart Agricultural Transformation Project, Mr Migadde said, aims at having a modern agriculture sector for increased production and productivity, and to promote value addition through agro-processing, which is the gist of the proposed project.

“It is, therefore, upon this background that the government is seeking to borrow up to $325 million and receive a grant of up to SDR (special drawing rights) 19.5 million (equivalent to $25 million),” Mr Migadde said.

Ms Naome Kabasharira, the Rushenyi County MP, said she hopes that the loan will be utilised to implement the desired agenda.

“We have seen a previous experience in these loans. Madam Speaker, there was loan from which we benefitted, the loan was also meant to consider the choked roads but the implementation left a lot to be desired,” Ms Kabasharira said, adding: “I have one example of one bridge. A lot of money [was] unutilised and even the roads were haphazardly worked on.  I pray that this loan is well-utilised.”

Mr Patrick Nsamba, the Kassanda County North MP, said until the country addresses the critical matters of climate change, people will continue to farm in swamps. 

Speaker Among retaliated that the loan was meant to help address climate change concerns. The House eventually passed a motion authorising the approval of the loan request.

The intervention, the Speaker said, would help the country. The floods, caused by the recent heavy rains, have had a devastating impact on businesses and livelihood not only in Kampala but also across surrounding suburbs.

A section of activists have partly been blaming the problem to climate change causing extreme and unpredictable weather conditions. Like Speaker Among, the activists want the government to address the problem before it goes out of hand.