The Minister of Local Government, Raphael Magyezi has asked the administration of Soroti to avoid monopolizing the City Status.
The Minister raised the concern this morning [Monday 10th August, 2020] while giving his address during the ongoing inauguration ceremony of Soroti City, which took place at Soroti Lukiko Hall.
Magyezi stated that the city is the central economy of Teso sub region and the nearby regions of Karamoja, Bukedi, Lango among others.
In his address, Magyezi also disclosed that the Ministry of Local Government is working closely with the Ministry of Public Service to get staff to occupy the offices for the City administration.
The Minister further handed over the authority of the new City to the Mayor of (former Soroti Municipal Council), until the next elections are held.
The leadership of the City will consist of an interim City Mayor, councilors who have been representing the electoral areas in the City, district councilors who have been representing the areas that have now been curved into the City, and councilors of the former Municipality.
“This leadership for the little time we have left until we have the next general election. We are trying to avoid leaving a vacuum in the administration of the City,” said Magyezi.
Fate of technical staff
The Minister explained that the technical staff that have been in the divisions of the Municipality will now all be considered as staff in the City.
“We are not sending away anybody. All those staff will now be taken in as staff of the City and will all work under the supervision of the Town Clerk, who is also now serving as an interim City Town Clerk,” explained Magyezi.
He added that, “we expect that in the next three months, this interim City Council will come up with a strategic development plan for the City. We are going to give you support to develop a physical plan for the City.”
Finance of the City
Magyezi said that the Ministry of Local Government is still working with the Ministry of Finance and Parliament to transfer the money that was meant for the Municipality to the City.
“We will transfer the 19 billion shillings that we had budgeted for the Municipality, but there is a formal process to do that and we are handling it in Parliament: so you should not fear that we are creating a City without funding” he explained.
Assets and Liabilities
According to the Minister, the assets and liabilities of Soroti Municipality will be taken over by the City.
“All the assets including land, buildings, vehicles, computers, including the debts that you had incurred as a Municipality will now be taken up by the City,” he said.
He however advised the interim City Council to avoid incurring more debts right now because that will be unfair for the City administration. The Minister also noted that personal debts should not be accounted to the City.
After Parliament approved Soroti to be part of the 15 Cities on 30th July, 2020, a group of 1,000 landlords led by Pascal Amuriat petitioned against the elevation of Soroti municipality on the grounds that the communities annexed to Soroti city are largely agrarian and that the elevation is likely to distort their way of life. They also complained that the changes were announced during the lockdown with little or no consultation from the communities.
In the petition, also copied to President Yoweri Museveni, the Speaker of Parliament and Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, among others, the petitioners also indicated that landlords are panicking to sell some assets to survey their land which was annexed to the city.
But the Minister of Local Government announced the nullification of that petition saying that it was against the development plan of the region.
The task ahead
The Minster also revealed that they are going through a very quick and rapid process of enacting a law for the City, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Local Government.
“Soroti City is a unique administration unit which is operating under the Local Government. It is not the same as Kampala Capital City which is under the Central government,” stated the Minister.
Magyezi also advised the current interim staff to upgrade their work ethics, academic qualifications- if any in order to fit in the rightful requirements for the technical administration of a City.
“Work in the City needs higher caliber and we are working with the Ministry of Public Service to have a full structure of the City and we shall make sure that we have the right staff,” said the Minister.
The Minister said that, “we are going to work with the Ministry of Lands and Urban housing to produce a comprehensive physical plan for the entire City.”
According to him, the rural areas that have been curved into the City will be included in the new physical plan of the City.
“We shall open the boundaries of the City so that there will be no quarrel between the City and the neighborhood,” he stated.
George Michael Egunyu, the LCV Chairperson for Soroti district, called upon all the leaders in Teso to work together for the development of the sub region.
Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Parliament who was also the chief guest of the event, told the Soroti City Council members and other leaders present that the creation of Soroti city was an obligation of the government to spread development across the country.
“There has been some loose talk that the government is creating cities unnecessarily. But in the Constitution, the government is obliged to create opportunities; and you cannot do that by having only one city,” said the Speaker.
Parliament on 30th July, 2020 passed and approved the creation of 15 new cities and they will participate in the forthcoming elections.