The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban development Judith Nabakooba has underscored the role of the urban areas in the transformation of Uganda’s economy.
Nabakooba who was speaking at the launch of the construction of the 1st batch of infrastructure sub-projects under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) program in Kitgum Municipality said urban areas are centres of major economic activities like industry, services and commerce.
USMID program is premised on the need to uplift Municipalities through improved urban infrastructure and institutional strengthening of Municipalities.
USMID Additional Financing (USMID-AF) is a follow up program to the phase one of USMID which was successfully executed and closed in 2018.
The minister who was flagging off road works of 2.92km in Kitgum Municipality after it was selected to join the USMID program said there has to be efficient and effective management of urban areas to contribute to national development.
She called upon the contractors to follow the targets identified in the contract and share reports amongst stakeholders.
“I wish to call on the contractor, to deliver timely and quality work as per contract, the supervising Consultant to provide the technical support to the Municipality and to ensure that the contractor delivers as required,” she said.
Kitgum Municipality received Ugx13.59bn and is expected to receive another UGX 9.23bn for the Financial Year (FY2021/22).
These funds are to be solely used for USMID program eligible investments provided for in the Program Operational Manual.
The USMID program aims at improving the institutional capacity of local governments through improved urban service delivery.
“I commit my staff to provide the necessary technical supervision and continuous monitoring to remove any bottlenecks that may constrain implementation of the project,” the minister revealed.
Nabakooba said her Ministry has completed feasibility studies and detailed engineering designs for all sub-projects to be implemented with USMID funding.
These projects were selected and prioritised by the Municipal Council and are ready for implementation as and when funds become available.
“We urge you Kitgum Municipality leadership to ensure that the contractor delivers to its full expectations. The Supervising Consultant has successfully done work under USMID and so we have some confidence that they will deliver. We however expect you to be mindful of the program timelines and have all works completed during the contract period.”
State Minister for Urbanization Obiga Kania explained that statistics show that every year 5% of Uganda’s population are moving to become urban areas and by 2040 it is estimated that 25million of about 80 million Ugandans will be living in urban areas.
“This is a good phenomenon for the government because when people congregate together, provision of services is easier. These urban areas are also able to create a market for production,” he said.
Obiga shared that urbanization is good and inevitable because with various urban areas, physical planning becomes easy.
“When a project of this kind comes, take it as your own and support the government to make sure that it works because the benefits will be for all of us. In the next five years of this government, we are going to emphasize the issue of physical planning and I can assure you we are going to do it.”
Kitgum Municipality Legislator Dennis Amele Onyalet commenting on the new development said for long, Kitgum has been crying for regional imbalance in terms of development but he is confident that with the coming of USMID, it will develop into a satellite city.
“Our role is specifically an oversight role and we will do it diligently without fear or favor. We need value for money, our constructors should give us this. Let us make a change in this project by doing what exactly has been put to paper.”
Amele promised to ensure a corruption free process and vowed to endeavour that close monitoring is done to ensure that whatever penny that comes out of the account does its intended purpose.
Joseph Pade Walter the Commissioner in Charge of Urban development in the ministry of lands shared that Uganda is urbanizing rapidly and it is currently at 20% and promising.
He explained that it is important to note that over 80% of Uganda’s GDP is generated from the urban areas there by rendering Kitgum municipality and other towns in the country pivotal in the development process of the country.
“USMID will support Kitgum and strengthen their capacity for improved service delivery. We are currently putting in place state of the art infrastructure but the challenge is how we are maintaining this infrastructure. We need to put in place a clear operation and maintenance protocol for these infrastructures.”
Mr Emmanuel Banya the Town Clerk Kitgum Municipality said the infrastructure is going to be the first of the kind that is going to be undertaken in this municipality under this project.
He said the procurement process was very transparent and they concluded without any administrative review because they did everything right amidst the challenges and temptations that go into the procurement process.
“It is my prayer that the contractor and consultant will not shame us and they will do the right thing that everyone here is proud of.”
He brought to the attention of the minister that Kitgum Municipality has a huge chunk of untitled land and appealed to her office for an affirmative action in terms of titling government lands.
“It is also within your docket that we have the Kitgum Airfield in the town. It has over the years faced a lot of encroachment from the community because there is a lot of pressure for land for development.”
According to Banya, the current airfield which is in the heart of the town can be used for commercial development, structures and other developments other than the intended purpose which has been overridden time.
“Through your ministry, we want to appeal that this airfield is gazette and an alternative land is secured out of the municipality for the airfield.”
Mr Milo Zhang, the Deputy Commercial Manager at China Railway 18th Group Ltd, the company contracted to construct the road, assured the municipal authorities his cooperation in building a good quality infrastructure.
“You will have value for money for your city and we will have all our equipment based here to ensure we have the work expedited in the stipulated time. We are delighted to work with you and will keep the relation to a mutual benefit.”
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