Ugandans to get affordable house plans

Oct 06, 2020

Daniel Muhumuza NuweAbine, the Kampala City Authority (KCCA) spokesperson, said the authority had not yet developed prototype house plans.

To enable many Ugandans access professional housing plans, the Government has developed cheap plans for low-cost house developers to buy.

Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of State for Housing, said the plans will cost between sh20,000 and sh50,000. "It is aimed at reducing illegal constructions.

The plan has to be approved by local governments after you buy," Baryomunsi said in a statement delivered by Dave Khayangayanga, the director for housing at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. Khayangayanga was addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala.

The statement was made to account for Government's initiatives to promote sustainable housing and urban development as the world commemorated the World Habitat Day yesterday. In 1985, the United Nations designated the first Monday of October every year as the World Habitat Day.

The idea is to reflect on the basic right of all people to adequate shelter and the future of the human habitat. Khayangayanga said the goal of the cheap plans is to help those who may not afford expensive plans drawn by architects and engineers.

He said the plans can be bought at the directorate of housing offices in Kampala and at local government district offices.

Khayangayanga said the plans are tailored to meet the housing needs of different districts.

"Architects had expressed fear that the cheap architectural house plans would kill their market. But we told them Ugandans need to get the services of professional architects; we shall reduce illegal construction, which is good for the country," he said.

Khayangayanga said COVID-19 has exposed the housing problems faced by societies as people were asked to stay indoors.

"Without adequate housing, it is impossible to carry out social distancing and good hygiene practices (which are required to prevent the spread of COVID-19)," Khayangayanga said.

He added that in Uganda, there is a housing deficit of two million houses.

Khayangayanga said if five people are expected to live in a house, over 10 million Ugandans do not have decent houses to achieve this.

He said the National Development Plan III puts more emphasis on investing in housing and urban development. Eng. Kenneth Kaijuka, the executive director of the National Housing and Construction Company, said what makes a house is not just the walls. Kaijuka explained that to build decent houses, there are many ingredients that include land, water and sanitation services, roofing materials, and power.

"We are asking the Government to prioritise financing housing in the same way they have prioritised financing roads and power. Many real estate developers are using commercial loans, which will make finished houses cost between sh200m and sh300m, which many Ugandans cannot afford," he said.

Kaijuka said many people, especially in the rural areas, are designing houses for themselves which do not meet standards for power connection and safety concerns.

Dorothy Bazibwe, the executive director Shelter and Settlement Alternatives, a local non-governmental organisation, said: "One way for people to build decent houses is by forming housing co-operatives.

People in the co-operatives know their income and can build affordable houses." She advised people to get land titles, know the owner of the land they occupy and understand what the plan of the area is before putting up a building.

Brendah Luyiga, the communications manager of Habitat for Humanity Uganda, said only 8% of Ugandans can afford housing mortgages on the market.

Daniel Muhumuza NuweAbine, the Kampala City Authority (KCCA) spokesperson, said the authority had not yet developed prototype house plans.

NuweAbine said there are middlemen who have made it a business to take developers' plans to KCCA. He said such middlemen tend to over-charge clients, adding that professional architects who have a name to protect do not over-charge their clients.

"A person is allowed to bring their house plans to the physical planning department at KCCA for approval. If they have all the documents, it should take two to three weeks to get the plans approved," NuweAbine said. He said there can be delays to approve plans if the documentation is incomplete or the right procedures are not followed.

Marvin Muhoozi, a real estate developer, said there are architects who complete their studies but are not certified, so they are not allowed to certify plans.

He said some architects who certify plans tend to over-charge for their services, forcing the non-certified architects to raise their charges too. Muhoozi said certified architects charge sh100,000 to certify each plan, while some earn as much as sh2m a day without going to the field.

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