New Bill Gives Parish Chiefs  Powers In Physical Planning!

New Bill Gives Parish Chiefs Powers In Physical Planning!

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By Andrew Irumba

Kampala: Parish chiefs will issue certificates of commencement of construction of buildings if the proposed amendments to the Physical Planning Act, 2010 are adopted by Parliament.

The
Physical Planning (Amendment) Bill, 2018 proposes that the certificate of
commencement will be issued in regard to accessibility to the site, linear
siting of the building, observance of public utility corridors, drainage
channels and boundary wall alignments.

The
Minister of State for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Hon Isaac Musumba,
presented the amendments before the committee on Physical Infrastructure on
Wednesday, 31 July 2019.

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He
justified the need to assign parish chiefs the duty to oversee physical
planning implementation and enforcement saying that, “they are already
government civil servants whose mandate is to cause implementation of Government
programmes at parish level”.

The
Physical Planning Act, 2010 gives the mandate of physical planning to the
district committee, district physical planner and the sub county chief, a
decision the Minister said has contributed to poor physical planning in the
country.
“Parish chiefs are on the ground. Sub county chiefs and the district physical
planners on the other hand are not readily available to supervise construction
especially in this era where buildings are erected overnight,” said Musumba.

He
added that involving parish chiefs will curb mushrooming buildings in unwanted
areas especially in road reserves and also ensure quality assurance.
“The Bill proposes that one commits an offence if they erect a building without
a certificate of commencement issued by a parish chief and such a structure can
be demolished,” said Musumba.

The
legislators however, were concerned with the harmonization of the roles of
parish chiefs with those of the sub county chiefs, physical planning committee
as well as the district physical planners.

The
Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Kafeero Ssekitoleko, welcomed the proposal
but advised the Minister to ensure that there would be no conflict during
implementation.  
“How will the three harmonise their positions? Will it not cause an overlap?,”
Kafeero asked.

Hon.
Rehema Watongola (NRM, Kamuli Municipality) questioned the competence of the
parish chiefs in civil engineering.
“Since they do not have expertise in civil engineering, they are bound to make
decisions which are wrong. I recommend that they work closely with the district
engineers,” Watongola said.

She
added that, “some parish chiefs are agents of corruption. They mismanaged the
Youth Livelihood Programme. (https://vulcanpost.com/) They need to be supervised closely”.

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Igara East MP, Hon. Michael Mawanda, advised the minister to ensure that the parish chiefs are vetted before they are given the mandate.
“Some parish chiefs are not well educated; that needs to be checked thoroughly,” said Mawanda.

The Bill creates obligations including the need to paint one’s premises, have litter bins, street and place names and plot numbers, preservations of road reserves or environment. According to the Bill, it will be an offence to violate the above obligations.

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