Uganda’s capital city has been in the news this week as pressure mounts over the inactivity of a proposed planning authority. The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) was formed in March 2011 with the objective to oversee the operations of the city and it was proposed that the neighbouring districts of Mukono, Wakiso and Mpigi would be enveloped into the Kampala Metropolitan Area.
Over the last few days, journalists and urban specialists have been speaking out about their concerns for the future of Kampala, drawing attention to the many residential settlements that have sprung up on the outskirts of the city, lining the roads with illegal (and largely unsanitary) dwellings. Shortly after these reports were published, the KCCA released an ambitious masterplan to come into practice in late 2012 in order to turn the city around.
KCCA Director for Physical Planning, George Agaba told All Africa Global Media: “Kampala physical masterplan will be ready by the end of next year. It tries to ensure zoning of the city. It demarcates commercial, residential and industrial areas within the city.”
The long-term plan is reported to address transport issues such as the widening of bus terminals and construction of flyovers, the strengthening of drainage channels, refinement of the citywide transportation system, zero tolerance on illegal building development, and implementation of supporting infrastructure including waste collection, widening of roads, reducing youth unemployment, and education on eco-alternatives for a greener city.
For urban expert, teacher and associate consultant at the Uganda Management Institute, Dr. Kiggundu Amin Tamale, the issues faced by Kampala can be traced back to its size and status within the country. In an enlightening article he muses: “Most of the management challenges facing Kampala are due in part to its unique status as the only city in Uganda as well as the lack of imaginative and dedicated managers… Kampala continues to function like a small trading centre in a village. Visionless cities are difficult to manage because their functions are too local and domestically located.”
Plans to stretch the capital’s boundaries to include additional districts are yet to be put into place and the promised Metropolitan Physical Planning Authority (MPPA) has not yet been appointed. As a result, planning constraints are lax and residential communities have begun to build up along the main roads into the city without approval from a legal body.
All Africa Global Media recently quoted statistics provided by Agaba, which suggest that more than 3,000 illegal buildings have been recorded within the city limits, many of which have already been pulled to the ground.
It is hoped that this freshly-concocted masterplan will offer new hope for the rapidly burgeoning city, whose population topped 1,659,600 in 2011. Mass overcrowding and lack of an authoritative presence on planning decisions has resulted in sprawling communities of low-quality residences which stretch outwards from the city centre. If fully implemented, this masterplan may just be the life raft this city so sorely needs.