UGANDA, Masaka | Real Muloodi News | Masaka is one of the former districts that attained city status in July 2020, along with Jinja, Mbarara, Mbale, Arua, Gulu, Fort Portal and others. To qualify for elevation to city status, the former Masaka Municipal Council was required to extend its boundaries into the neighbouring Kalungu and Lwengo Districts.
However, leaders in areas that were annexed to create Masaka City are struggling to integrate their communities into the new urban local government systems.
The leaders in Kasanje, Kibisi and Kirowooza Parishes that were formerly part of the Kalungu District show that although they are grateful and have high expectations from the residents upon being added to the city, they are still struggling to conform to the new government’s structural demands.
Martin Ssali, the Kasanje ward councillor to the Nyendo-Mukungwe Division, says many constituents regret the addition to the city administration.
He argues that the demands call for cost implications for residents.
He says the added parishes were geographically at the edge of the mother districts, and as a result, typically rural communities are suddenly being required to have urbanisation qualities.
In addition to the compulsory requirement of paying for building plans, the residents are also disappointed with the new direct taxes that are imposed on them.
Recently, Masaka City Council revised its tax rates for trading licenses and started the collection of property and ground taxes to maximise their revenue collections.
According to Ssali, the arrangement is new to the residents in the area, and they are crying over the direct cost implication it presents to them.
Josephine Nassanga, a councillor for the Kibisi ward, says there is a need to seriously carry out sensitisation in the new communities to help them understand their obligations under the city authority.
She added that the communities are demanding improved services of city status, yet they are not willing to meet their tax obligations.
Micheal Mulindwa, the Nyendo-Mukungwe Division chairperson, says they are mindful of the challenges of the slow pace at which the communities are adapting to the city status demands. He notes that they have embarked on community sensitisation exercises to help them understand the realities of the new system.
He adds that the enforcement of some of the city policies is still lenient to the new communities to allow them gradually integrate and match up to the standards of city authority.
In 2020, the leaders of Lwengo and Kalungu finally endorsed a proposal to annex some parts of the two districts to form Masaka City.
They had earlier hesitated to endorse the proposal arguing they had been left out and not formally engaged in elevating Masaka municipality to city status.
Some of the qualifications for city status which needed Lwengo and Kalungu to be annexed were a minimum population of at least 300,000 and a land area measuring 100 square kilometres.
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