Home News Mbale City residents up in arms over unplanned structures

Mbale City residents up in arms over unplanned structures


A street in Mbale Town. FILE PHOTO

Mbale residents are up in arms with city council authorities over mushrooming unplanned structures.

The residents say the structures, which have been constructed without approval from the physical planning committee, are around taxi and bus park, Uhuru Park, Lorry Park, Railway playground and behind North Road Primary School.

“There seems to be a lot of corruption among the city leadership and lack of monitoring and supervision,” Fatuma Namwenge, a resident and landlord on Manafwa Road in Mbale city, said.

Akim Watenyeri, the vice chairperson of the Uganda People’s Congress party in the area, said most illegal structures are constructed at night and during weekends when there is less supervision.


“The proprietors build at night and during weekends. They say they do not need any approval from council or any other concerned authorities,” he said.

Watenyeri said there is a need to update the city’s physical development plan and to establish a geographic information system.

“The city is still operating on physical plans of 1960s, yet the population has grown,” he added.

Gloria Nafuna, a resident of Muvule cell in the industrial division, said land grabbers have built houses on sewer lines, drainage systems, in green areas and buffer zones.

“We always report to the city officials, but we get no response,” she said.

Doreen Kapsulel, the principal public relations officer for the National Water and Sewerage Corporation in eastern region, acknowledged the fact that mushrooming buildings with no approved plans create sewage management challenges.

“Building on sewer lines poses a big challenge. When the lines get blocked, it becomes difficult for us to maintain them because we cannot access networks,” she noted.

James Kutosi, the Mbale city spokesperson, said they will soon launch an operation to demolish illegal structures.

“It is true, we have illegal structures in the city and it is a big challenge for us as council. It is one of the issues we are going to address soon,” he said.

Kutosi also concurred with residents who say the physical planning committee has not done enough to combat the problem.

“There are some gaps in the physical planning committee, but we are going to handle it,” he added.

According to the National Population and Housing Census 2014, Mbale city is among the 20 largest urban centres in the country in terms of population.

Currently, the city is inhabited by 500,190 people. Suleiman Nandala, a property developer, blamed the council leaders for delaying to approve building plans, which he says forces some developers to cut corners.

“It takes about two to three months for a building plan to be approved,” he said.

However, the city physical planner, Fred Nambafu, blamed the illegal structures on crafty developers who carry out construction work at night with security protection.

“They request for permission to renovate buildings, but instead embark on new construction works,” he said.

“Most of the condemned buildings are on Niobe, Pallusa Road, Manafwa Road and Republic Street,” he added.

Elgon region Police spokesperson Rogers Taitika dismissed allegations that security personnel offer protection to developers to put up illegal buildings.

“They are the ones that clear the structures. I do not understand why they are complaining now,” he noted.

Stealing public land

Apart from mushrooming illegal structures, residents also accuse Mbale city leadership of grabbing public land.

“They steal public land and erect buildings. Most of the illegal structures belong to big people in the Government and city leadership,” Robert Kuloba, a businessman, said.

In 2015, Mbale launched a campaign to demolish buildings that did not conform to physical planning standards.

However, only containers housing shops and kiosks were razed.

“They only demolish structures belonging to ordinary people,” he added.

Rogers Kimaswa, a former town councillor, said failure to implement the 2006 resolution, which stipulated that all open places be gazetted, is what is leading to the mushrooming structures.

Musa Kasaja, the industrial division speaker, said the land grabbers connive with civil servants and politicians to grab public land, on which they erect illegal structures.

“The leaders, implementers and planners are at the same time the culprits and, therefore, they cannot demolish their own buildings,” Kasaja said.

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