Kamya halts demolition of illegal city buildings

Kampala- A bold move by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to demolish at least 537 illegal city structures could suffer a still-birth after the Minister for Kampala, Ms Beti Kamya, directed KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi to stop the scheduled exercise, Daily Monitor has learnt.

On October 2, Ms Kamya wrote to Ms Musisi directing her that the scheduled demolition be put on halt until further consultations are made.

“…The purpose of this letter is to request you to put on hold the demolition of buildings’ programme until we have held the proposed harmonisation meeting between KCCA executive and division mayors,” the letter reads in part.

She said the Nakawa Division Mayor, Mr Ronald Balimwezo Nsubuga, had petitioned her office, raising salient issues that must be addressed before the demolition.

Ms Kamya copied the letter to her junior, Ms Benny Namugwanya, acting Undersecretary in the Ministry of Kampala Affiars, Monica Edemachu and all city division mayors.

Raised concern
Mr Balimwezo told this newspaper by telephone that he petitioned the minister because the local leaders had not been consulted on the demolition decision.

“The problem at KCCA is that there is no coordination in the entire system. For instance, the directorate of physical planning said a building was illegally constructed but the directorate of revenue from the same institution, gives a trading licence to people operating in that very building.

How do you then demolish such a structure? Where were they when such structures were being constructed?” he asked.

Mr Balimwezo warned that KCCA might face litigation if they demolish the earmarked structures.

He also claimed some KCCA officials take bribes to flout the law on physical planning and it’s the reason illegal structures are on the rise in the city. However, he did not name any culprit.

Daily Monitor has also learnt that Ms Kamya will convene a crisis meeting at the President’s Office today to discuss the controversy.

“I can confirm that she [minister] called for a meeting and it will happen. The matter is that for development to take place on land in the jurisdiction of Kampala, it must be regulated under the existing legal framework,” Mr Peter Kaujju, KCCA’s director of public and corporate affairs, confirmed.

However, he dismissed claims that Ms Kamya was trying to shoot down KCCA’s effort to enforce physical planning laws.

Since last month when Daily Monitor broke the story about the impending demolition of illegal structures in the city, many landlords have been panicking over the fate of their properties that had been targeted.

According to KCCA, the earmarked buildings are incompatible with the city physical planning standards.

Ms Amanda Ngabirano, an urban and regional planner, said the demolition of city illegal structures is long overdue.
Ms Ngabirano said it is a normal step for any city authority to demolish illegal structures.

“If these structures were built illegally or their plans amended illegally, they should be demolished. But if owners of these structures have approved plans, they should be compensated,” she said.

By Daily Monitor

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