Parliament has deferred a motion on the creation of new cities to Thursday over poor preparation on the government side.
The motion for the creation of 15 new cities across the country over a four-year period was tabled yesterday by the Minister for Local Government Tom Butime.
The proposed cities include Fort Portal, Gulu, Mbarara, Jinja , Arua, Masaka and Mbale set to commence in July 2020, Hoima for 2021,Entebbe and Lira for 2022 while Nakasongola, Moroto, Soroti, Wakiso and Kabale will commence operations in July 2023.
Butime told MPs that some cities such as Nakasongola, Soroti and Wakiso lacked clear demarcations for proposed Divisions, and they awaited “further consultations.” He said he was ready to proceed with Arua, Gulu, Entebbe and Mbarara.
Butime implored Parliament to support the creation of the cities which will act as a vehicle for enhanced service delivery and quick infrastructure development as well as rapid urbanization, all which point to the Uganda Vision 2040.
He however dismissed fears that the rapid creation of cities and respective Divisions was for political purposes.
“The actual constituencies will be mapped out by the Electoral Commission, and not my ministry,” Butime said.
However, lawmakers from both the opposition and the ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) unanimously agreed to have the matter deferred to Thursday to allow the minister consult and report back with clear details relating to boundaries of every Division.
Busiro East MP, Medard Lubega Sseggona and Ndorwa East MP, Wilfred Niwagaba said whereas the idea on creating the cities was generally acceptable, they were suspicious of the hasty manner in which the government presented its request, especially with many proposals falling short on boundary demarcations.
Sseggona noted that the approach taken by government is not the one which was agreed upon by Wakiso district, saying that as Wakiso, they only want to be granted only one city which is Wakiso and not Entebbe and Wakiso cities as proposed by the minister and asked for parliament to give them two days to liaise with the minister.
“We seem to have agreed unanimously that in principal, we need these cities; but we need to be clear on how we proceed. We need not over rush, we need not over delay,“ said Sseggona.
He added: “My view is that we cannot be ready when we are not ready. We need at least two days to help the minister to come up with a detailed and clean motion which we all support.”
Citing Entebbe City for instance, Sseggona said that Busiro South Constituency represented by Peter Ssematimba (NRM) would be swallowed up because almost all its composition is part of the proposed city.
He also said there are several risks associated with turning counties into Divisions, more so without the involvement of area leaders.
Niwagaba instead demanded that the minister gives MPs the boundaries of the proposed cities.
He tasked the Minister to state the boundaries for Kabale-City North and Kabale City South.
The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah pushed the matter to Thursday.
He said it was apparent that it was clear “the situation in the room is making no headway” especially given that the Minister’s motion lacked specifics.
He advised that while returning, Butime should “present a complete list of cities and their boundary demarcations.”
“Those details about the boundaries must be laid to parliament to enable members to follow,” Oulanyah.
Proposed Cities and Divisions
- Mbarara: Mbarara North and Mbarara South Divisions
- Gulu: Laroo-Pece and Bardege Layibi Divisions
- Arua: Arua Central and Ayivu Divisions
- Fort Portal: Fort Portal Central and Fort Portal North Divisions
- Jinja: Jinja North and Jinja South
- Mbale: lndustrial and Northern Divisions
- Entebbe: Entebbe Central and Entebbe North Divisions;
- Lira: Lira West and Lira East Divisions.
- Masaka: Kimanya-Kabonero and Nyendo-Mukungwe Divisions
- Hoima: Hoima East and Hoima West Divisions