By Moses Mulondo
KAMPALA - Parliament’s physical infrastructure committee has called on government to speed up the process of creating new cities in the country, aimed at decongesting the capital, Kampala.
The MPs on the committee made the resolution while discussing the alternative statement by the shadow minister for housing and urban development William Nzoghu.
“Kampala is too congested. We waste a lot of quality time in traffic jam. This is a big hindrance to development. Government should give us a clear roadmap on the plan to create regional cities,” said Kibaale woman MP Robinah Nabanja.
She said whereas countries have more than one major city, Uganda still lags behind in moving into this direction yet the country has one of the highest population growth rates in the world.
As of 2009, Uganda is ranked among the top ten countries with the highest population growth rate by both the United Nations (3.24 – 8th) and World Bank (3.27 – 6th).
In 2011, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) estimated the mid-year population of the Kampala city at 1,659,600. And the number is believed to be growing every year.
Kilak County MP Gilbert Oulanya requested that municipalities like Mbarara, Mbale, Gulu, Masaka, Jinja, and others which applied for city status be immediately considered.
Other cities that have been proposed either by government or local authorities include Nakasongola, Soroti, Fort Portal, Hoima,Arua, Mukono and Karuma.
The minister for lands, housing and urban development, Daudi Migereko told New Vision that government is currently working on the urban policy which will guide the country on the matter.
The draft for this policy is already out and it is before cabinet for consideration, said the minister.
“This urban policy will contain the criteria to be used to determine the various classes of urban centres. This is what we shall use to create various cities in the country,” he added.
MP Gilbert Oulanya proposed that as part of the move to decongest Kampala and diffuse development to other regions, various government ministries and organizations should be relocated from Kampala to other places.
With such a move, the legislator reasoned, Kampala would remain just a commercial city.
On lack of access to decent accommodation, the committee legislators suggested that government establishes a national building fund for the Ugandan citizens to borrow money and construct low-cost houses.
Shadow housing minister Nzoghu called for the removal of the VAT levy on domestic water to enable urban dwellers to afford clean water.