Part 1: To make Jinja city or not?

Nelson Bwire Kapo

On Wednesday, a group of legislators led by Butembe County MP, Nelson Lufafa stormed the office of speaker and started clamouring for a review of decisions to grant Jinja Municipality city status.

Among reasons they gave include; Jinja’s infrastructure like roads, Nile Bridge as well as tourism activities which puts the municipality at a vantage point of attaining and sustaining city status, and exceeding required population of 500,000 people.

Lufafa and team further argued that elevating Jinja Municipality into a city positions Uganda at the same level with neighbouring East African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania that each have three cities.

Kadaga in affirmative urged the MPs to bring the matter in motion at parliament so that the Ministry of Local Government can expedite the process of elevating all the proposed municipalities.

Lufafa then went gloating on social media rallying his army of supporters to look at this form of success in his first tenure of office as Member of parliament for Butembe, which by the way constitutes of areas like Bugembe, Wanyange, Musima, and several other rural areas in Jinja.

This is the third time Jinja is coming with a demand for city status, twice through parliament, and once through the public.

In May 2015, Parliament unanimously passed a proposal from the finance committee which required government to immediately embark on creation another city to decongest Kampala

The House took the decision while considering the second five-year National Development Plan (NDP) which would be implemented from 215/2016 financial year to the 2020/2021 financial year.

Government also proposed four regional cities to be established under the vision 2040 and these include; Arua, Gulu, Mbale, and Mbarara and five strategic cities which include Hoima (oil), Nakasongola (industrial), Fort Portal (tourism), Moroto (mining), and Jinja (industrial).

However, in 2016, Parliament deferred a motion seeking to elevate four municipalities to city status on grounds that they do not meet the criteria. The municipalities included Jinja, Mbarara, Arua and Gulu.

According to the Ministry of Local Government, one of the requirements for a municipality to attain city status is to have a population of 350,000, a master plan for land use, office space, water sources and the capacity to meet its cost of delivery of services.

In 2004 (November 24), then Jinja Mayor David Wakudumira called on government to elevate the municipality to city status saying it would reduce congestion in Kampala and attract investors “given the high standards of development the town would assume.”

Wakudumira started walking the talk by ordering closure of all premises in Jinja town that had not been renovated from roof to floor. He also swung 60% of the budget to maintaining roads including; Gabula, Kiira, Kyabazinga way, Masese and Mpumude Avenue.

Unfortunately for Wakudimura, he was let down by the Public Relations team, and he would later publicly lash out at them during an interview with newvision at his office along main street. “Weak public relations department is our liability,” he said. Earlier, Wakudumira had been in a battle with NGOs around Lake Victoria asking them to lobby for policies that ensure sustainable use and management of the lake and its resources (December 16 2002).

About two months before (September 1st 2002), Wakudumira had sat down teachers and awarded them and schools for excellence performance. He called upon teachers in the municipality to ensure they offer quality and competitive education to children in the area. The result of Wakudumira’s efforts would later be shown in screaming headline in Daily Monitor a year later; “Kampala, Jinja Top PLE results.” The story was written by Alex B Atuhaire.

The story of Wakudumira goes on and on, but he definitely is one mayor who wanted a city for Jinja and made sure his demands were backed by work.

Enter Muhammad Kezaala Beswali who toppled Wakudumira and by 2008, he had started clamouring for city as well. Kezaala’s mood for city was jump started when he was watching TV and then Minister for Local Government, Hope Mwesigye promised city status for Mbarara.

A jolly Kezaala summoned available journalists a few days later (July) and said that if Mbarara was to be made city, then Jinja should go first because “we proposed that long time ago.”

“We heard the state minister, Hope Mwesigye, on a local TV station saying Mbarara municipality will achieve city status by October this year, yet Jinja municipality was the first to table the motion of city status,” Kezaala complained.

A year later, Kezaala was interdicted and arrested for approving sh16.7m for the purchase of 100 pieces of iron sheets and 820 bags of cement from green summer ltd, using money meant for village councils.

Kezaala had also been accused of allocating a building along Lubas road to a Muslim association he belonged, hence the IGG preferred charges of influence peddling.

Meanwhile Jinja’s infrastructure was now falling far back, buildings renovated in Wakudumira’s time began to get dilapidated, roads earned huge potholes and Jinja started giving way to Bushenyi, Mpigi and Mukono in UNEB performance.

Keezala would later in an interview on NBS Radio claim that he had so many developments to do for Jinja, but he was being sabotaged by NRM supporters.

Later that year, Kezaala with the likes of Richard Gulume, David Kyasanku injected large sums of money towards the drive of advocating for Jinja city status, the money which was about Shs100m was invested towards the infrastructure Pre-requisite to examination by an official from skelleftea and later city status drive. The campaign fell on its face.

Indeed, a year later when Kezaala said that Jinja was not being granted city by government because he was opposition, the same Gulume who was on his team said; “Jinja lacks requisite modalities and its infrastructure is poor.”

Kezaala was the utmost opposite of Wakudumira and yet both demanded for the same thing- City. Kezaala’s ridiculousness could not get any better that when he got a second term in office and was interviewed by a journalist on his next step of action, he said: “As you can see, I have wasted a lot of my money in courts of law (battling cases with IGG and the likes), what is next now is first to make my pockets fine.”

In his term of office, roads became unusable, even the stretch of Baxi road which is rarely used became hampered by potholes, the side of Mango road that was so beautiful became completely disastrous, the side of Mada worsened, the road behind Mainstreet primary school closed after several years of failure to maintain and the school itself that is in middle of city was dirty, buildings ugly and dilapidated, but Kezaala and team were working on convincing certain rural divisions to join Jinja and make the required population for city status just like Nelson Lufafa and his team are doing today; looking for a population angle.

The next part will be published next Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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