SOROTI – The decision by Cabinet to approve the creation of nine cities, five of which will become operational on 1st July 2020 may have been received well in the named districts, but the pronouncement has left the Teso region angered questioning why Soroti Municipality was left out on the city bonanza.
The grievances of the Teso region were made known by Jacqueline Amongin (Ngora Woman) who tasked the Minister of Local Government, Tom Butime to explain why Soroti was sidelined in this decision.
Amongin said: “Soroti as a municipality is one of the longest municipalities in this country, it is one of the areas that have potential. I would like the Minister of Local Government to come and explain why Soroti is missing among the proposed municipalities. What were the criteria for choosing which municipality comes first?”
Her statement followed a revelation by Minister Butime who said that Cabinet had agreed on the creation of nine more cities including; Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Fort Portal, and Mbarara that would be elevated from municipal to city status starting the next financial year while Hoima and Mbarara will gain their city status in July 2021.
According to Butime, Fort Portal, Mbarara and Hoima will serve as regional cities in western Uganda while Entebbe city will complement Kampala Capital City in the Central region while Gulu, Lira and Arua will serve the northern region and lastly, Mbale and Jinja cities will serve the eastern region.
Mary Karooro, Minister of General Duties asked Amongin to talk to Teso residents to inform them that their dream to city status will be realized soon because the gifting of cities is still ongoing with the project set to be implemented in a phased manner.
The Minister said: “There is a lot of beef in what she has said. Soroti is something else historically and otherwise. Creation of cities is in phases, it’s too long and I know Itesots will understand.”
According to Government, Shs130Bn will be required for the operationalisation of the cities after meeting all the requirements.
The decision by Government to create nine more cities come at a time when David Bahati, State Minister for Planning David Bahati admitted before Parliament that Government has no resources to operationalize creation of new districts, much less conduct elections for their political leaders.
Minister Bahati’s remarks were in response to complaints from MPs who questioned why the Electoral Commission has failed to conduct elections in districts of; Nabitatuk, Bugweri, Kassanda, Kwania, Kapelebyong and Kikuube that were meant to come into effect by 1st July 2018.
Additionally, Parliament also voted to have seven districts meant to come into effect by 1st July 2019 and these include; Obongi, Lusot, Karenga, Kitagwenda, Madi-Okollo, Rwampara and Kazo.
The Electoral Commission estimates that the annual wage bill and non-wage component for the twenty-three districts is Shs3.461Bn and Shs3.507Bn respectively bringing total to Shs6.968Bn and that doesn’t include the cost of conducting elections.
Now, Ugandans have only weeks left to know if the cities will take effect as planned after the reading of the national budget in July 2019.