UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The government is considering a bill to register physical planners and weed out quacks. However, Members of Parliament have expressed their dissatisfaction by the lack of comprehensiveness with the Physical Planners Registration Bill 2021, which was introduced in Parliament by Hon. Judith Nabakooba, Minister of Lands.
The bill intends to formalise physical planning by forming a Physical Planners Board to certify and regulate physical planners.
Unlike other professionals who have regulatory frameworks such as lawyers, surveyors, engineers, and doctors, currently, there is no legal framework regulating physical planners in Uganda. This leads to abuse of minimum physical planning standards, according to Minister Nabakooba.
Nabakooba led the Ministry’s technical team and presented the draft Bill before Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure for scrutiny.
However, the Committee expressed their concern that the Bill is lacking.
For example, Gideon Thembo Mujungu, the Busongora South County MP in Kasese District, observed the Bill lacks input from crucial stakeholders, such as the architects who have traditionally done physical planning.
“Architects have argued that since time immemorial, they have done physical planning and that even at university, they study a whole physical planning module. Where are they in this bill?” asked Hon Mujungu.
Hon. Robert Kasolo, Vice-Chairman of the Committee, stated that while the proposed bill covers offences, it does not specify sanctions.
“What have you put in place to protect the public from physical planners who have been disqualified from the practice due to their incompetence?” Kasolo asked.
The bill states that “a person who falsely impersonates a physical planner commits an offense and is subject, upon conviction, to a fine not to exceed 48 monetary points or imprisonment not to exceed two years or both.”
According to these parliamentarians, the clause does not adequately address the flaws.
“You find a sub-county chief posing as a physical planner and raising huge sums of money; What has he set in motion for the victims of such an impostor?” asked Hon Pascal Mbabazi (NRM, Buwekula County).
The committee was also apprehensive that the bill establishes a board of physical planners and their tasks but does not define their authority.
The MPs want the bill to bring the Uganda Institute of Physical Planners and the Physical Planners Association’s conflicts into line. Both private bodies have attempted to regulate the physical planners’ activities.
According to Nabakooba, while other professionals, such as architects and engineers, complement physical planning tasks, this bill concentrates solely on physical planners.
“As a government, we say that physical planning must be taken seriously. If we don’t streamline physical planning, we will be in a mess and end up with slums,” Nabakooba said.
Other professions vying to be included in the bill, according to Nabakooba, are already regulated by other measures and should not disrupt the committee from the bill’s objectives.
“You will remember that there is currently no legal framework that regulates physical planners unlike other professionals such as surveyors and engineers who have their own regulatory framework,” he said.
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