UGANDA, Fort Portal | Real Muloodi News | Majid Musisi, Ramathan Kassim, and Godwin Mwesige have been arrested over accusations of destroying street lights in Fort Portal City, and detained at Fort Portal central police station.
The arrest was made after an intelligence-led operation was carried out, due to the many complaints which arose from city authorities concerning the stealing and destruction of city lights.
Vincent Twesige, the Rwenzori West Region police spokesperson, says the suspect’s files will be forwarded to the resident state attorney for further direction and sanctions when investigations are over.
The central division mayor, Richard Muhumuza, revealed that as leaders, they were compelled to conduct the investigation and operation with police after a rise in the destruction and theft of street lights.
He reported that 27 solar panels had been vandalised in one and a half years along Kamwenge road, Kabundaire road, Kamuhiigi road, Bundibugyo road, and Bukwali areas.
City Mayor Muhumuza says they have lost batteries worth UGX 48.6 million to vandalism vices.
Just last year, two suspects were arrested, charged and convicted over theft and vandalism of solar panel street lights in the same city. They were then sentenced to imprisonment in Kajoto prison.
The investigations and arrests coincide with Fort Portal’s request for funds to purchase 100 street lights after the World Bank mission complained that the city has various dark places, especially on roads constructed under the USMID programme.
The city’s clerk, Moses Otimong, revealed that on their next purchase and installation of the street lights, they will include spikes to keep away thieves who remove the solar panels and batteries from the street light poles.
Fort Portal City is one of the former municipalities that recently attained city status. It has a vision of becoming the centre of tourism by 2040 and the city leadership is doing whatever it takes to develop the necessary infrastructure to that effect, including good roads with street lights.
Consequently, city leadership has embarked on is a bid to increase its own revenues to fund the maintenance of street lights and other local services for the citizens living in Hoima, to supplement their request for funds externally.
Property rates tax is an important revenue source for the city to be able to fund local services such as the provision of services like street lights, road construction and maintenance, city planning. water and sanitation, local health clinics, antimalarial drugs, security, among other services provided through the Hoima City Council.
For this reason, Fort Portal City conducted a property revaluation exercise throughout the City earlier this year, targeting commercial properties to be taxed over the next 5 years. The comprehensive GIS-enabled property valuation exercise was carried out by REDAH Informatics Ltd, with the support of USAID, as part of the Domestic Revenue Mobilisation for Development (DRM4D) project.
A minimum of 75 per cent of the monies raised from property rates will be allocated to the provision of services, like street lights and road maintenance.
Fort Portal’s last property revaluation exercise was conducted in 2015, when it was still a municipality. Since that time, property development in the tourism city has flourished. Therefore the hope is that the revaluation exercise will yeild much higher revenues for the city.
Fort Portal City leadership is poised to make public the property draft valuation list, giving property owners the opportunity to view, and if applicable object to, the valuations of their properties upon which property rates (property tax) will be levied for the next 5 years.
READ MORE LIKE THIS: