Newly created Fort Portal City
The Local Government Ministry is considering further amendments to the Local Government Act to introduce provisions too specific to the management of the newly created cities.
In July last year, the government started operationalizing seven new cities including Hoima, Mbarara, Mbale, Gulu, Jinja, Masaka and Fort Portal following their elevation from municipalities. However, the actual operations and funding of the new cities was affected by a court petition by the former Masaka District Chairperson who challenged the legality and inauguration of the interim leadership of the cities.
After the swearing-in of the substantive leaders of the new cities, the Local Government Ministry is considering several amendments to the current law to facilitate the effective management of the new administrative units.
The draft amendments according to Justinian Nuwagaba, the Commissioner for Urban Administration in the Ministry of Local Government are necessitated by the need to have customized provisions that can enable effective management of the new urban local governments as well as drawing a clear distinction between them and the districts.
Section 4 of the Local Government Act 1997 provides for cities that operate equivalent to districts, but it does not address the ambiguity on the operation of structures and statutory bodies of the two distinct local governments. Nuwagaba explains that they are working on a framework of the proposed amendments to introduce provisions that particularly relate to the management of the new cities.
Besides the proposed amendments, Nuwagaba foresees a situation that will require the government to enact a separate law on the administration of the new cities. On top of the seven urban local governments that began operating in July 2020, the government also approved the systematic creation of more cities a process that will run up to 2023. This will bring to 15, the number of cities in the country.
Nuwagaba indicates that such a setting will need a special arrangement, which the government will inevitably have to put in place for effective management.
Jackie Kemigisha, the Principal Urban Inspector in the Ministry of Local Government, says that the newly elected leaders are challenged to work towards developing cities that are all-inclusive for all categories of people to enable them realize holistic development.
According to Kemigisha, as they wait for a separate law, the leadership in the cities is required to align their plans with the National Urban Agenda, which the government has already put in place. Florence Namayanja, the Masaka City Mayor prefers that government reverses the policy that prevents local governments from using their local revenue collections before sending it to the consolidated account before it is returned.
She says the policy affects the level of service delivery in the local government since the Ministry of Finance delays to return the funds.