Parliament approves creation of 15 cities

Parliament has approved the creation of 15 new cities in Uganda, in line with Article 179(1) (A) of the Constitution on alteration of boundaries and Section 7 (2a) of the Local Governments Act CAP.243 on declaration of cities.

The House, chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, approved the motion by the Minster of Local Government, Hon. Raphael Magyezi, during plenary on Tuesday, 28 April 2020 for a resolution to alter boundaries and declare the new cities.

An overwhelming number of 313 Members of Parliament present during the plenary sitting voted to adopt the motion, surpassing the 50 per cent + One or 224 Members required by the rules to carry the day on any motion or item on the Floor of Parliament.

One MP, a government minister, voted against the motion arguing that the country’s finances had been constrained in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. There were no abstentions.

Cities have a direct charge on the Consolidated Fund and have their specific votes, through which funds for social services and infrastructure are directly channeled.

The new cities will be operationalised in clusters beginning 1 July 2020, through to July 2023 with Jinja, Mbarara, Gulu, Mbale, Arua, Fort Portal and Masaka taking effect with the new Financial Year 2020/2021.

The second cluster of cities to be operationalised by 1 July 2021 will be Hoima, Lira and Soroti, followed by Entebbe that will take effect as a city on 1 July 2022; and the last cluster will be Moroto, Nakasongola, Kabale and Wakiso cities that will be operationalised on 1 July 2023.

After the voting session, Busiro County East MP Hon. Medard Sseggona sought leave to amend the motion to bring the operationalisation of Entebbe and Wakiso cities forward to 2021.

“We had indicated that because the Ministry had not sought a resolution from the district to incorporate some of the sub-counties and town councils, the resolution was secured conditional to the two cities stating together,” said Sseggona.

He thus implored the patience of the House that fairness would require it to stick to the concessions made with Government.

Hon. James Waluswaka (NRM, Bunyole West County) challenged Sseggona for presenting the amendment after the voting had already taken place, saying “Other regions like Bukedi have not yet gotten such an opportunity but we are painfully waiting; is it order for the Member to confuse the House?”

The Speaker declined to the amendment saying there needed to be fairness in the country owing to the fact one of its regions has more cities than others.

“There are issues of equity in this country and I want to appeal that we go with the motion as proposed by the Minister because he came and read them out (cities), none of you said anything, we started voting and have finished,” said Kadaga.

Magyezi commended MPs for voting to approve the creation of the cities saying it was a fundamental decision for the urbanisation and development of the country.

The Minister added that the motion to amend the creation of Wakiso City could come at a later time on its own merit and could be considered and processed accordingly.

On 3 December 2019, then Local Government Minister, Col. Tom Butime, said that the cities will accelerate urbanisation and their coming into force plays perfectly well in the Vision 2040 scheme of things.