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Why Kampala, Wakiso, Mpigi, Mukono need coordination in planning

have no doubt the physical planning fraternity in Uganda and those who wish us well rejoiced over the news that Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA) was heading for better and modern comprehensive planning.

The arrangement, which unfortunately is being referred to as an “extension” of Kampala, is meant to facilitate the coordinated planning and development process for Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono and Mpigi.

Uganda’s capital and its neighboring towns are already extended into one other – making Kampala appear like one big disorganized city.

From a personal and professional point of view, the GKMA idea was long overdue. Mukono, Wakiso, Kampala and Mpigi are entangled, and almost trapped in a web of spatial disgust and inefficiency ranging from traffic and transportation, housing, green open spaces, sanitation and drainage issues.

Since physical planning, as a profession and approach to city development, is still in its infancy stages and least appreciated in most developing countries, it is understandable such an advanced, smart and modern concept could be rejected even before it is clearly understood.

Has it been clearly explained to all?

The territorial factor always raises fears, particularly due to political and administrative interests, with little or no regard to the existing spatial challenges. It is, therefore, no wonder this strategy is being referred to as an “extension” of Kampala.

What all should know is that spatial planning is never about individual entities, but authorities and their neighboring regions. Regional planning, more often than not, requires effective administrative, financial and governance arrangements amongst the concerned entities.

Generally, regional planning is best practiced when there is a planning body, which in Kampala’s case would be the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area Authority.

This, according to the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Act, should be set up to guide the metropolitan area planning. The now contentious GKMA strategy was apparently prepared in coordination and consultation with the concerned local governments and several other concerned government entities.

In the absence of the authority, it is commendable the concerned stakeholders thought of a strategy, probably as an interim plan, aimed at jointly facing and addressing the current regional and spatial challenges for efficiency and improved quality of life.

Such spatial themes as housing, employment and mobility are automatically brought together because of the aspect of daily commuting – with or without the consent of the individual urban authorities.

The concept of network cities and urban regions is known for not only stimulating growth, but also facilitating an effective and efficient process of controlled and regulated development.

Without this approach, cities realize less than they expected from their individual plans. For Kampala’s case, we have seen KCCA implement several infrastructural projects which, after a short period of time, appear like they had no major impact.

This has been mainly due to the piecemeal kind of planning, while ignoring some shared, yet important spatial factors. In relation to GKMA, we can all attest to the fact that the entities therein must jointly address the prevailing spatial challenges.

These include traffic and transportation, sanitation and drainage, housing location, utility planning, business and environmental performance, among others.

But is there mutual trust for such cooperation? Is there mutual desire to address such challenges as the quality of life continues to deteriorate due to inadequate and uncoordinated spatial planning? Is each entity satisfied with the impact of their isolated plans?

Small as it is, The Netherlands’ spatial planning has evidently been made easier and more impactful through this approach of regional/provincial planning, guided at the national level. This has fostered coordinated and efficient planning and development. 

If it’s true that greater Kampala contributes 60 per cent to Uganda’s GDP, according to KCCA figures, then the need and urgency to improve the region’s efficiency and performance should be a concern to all key stakeholders.

Despite the presidential stance on the formulation of new government agencies and authorities, GKMA is one case he should consider as special. This could, as well, be done for the other regions. If the concerned regional entities are smart enough, now is the time to unite and plan jointly.

Although politics is an important and influential element in societal wellbeing, it is dangerous to politicize every other programme, even when it should be purely technical and professional.

Whoever is against the GKMA strategy is purely ignorant of its benefits, and deserves to be furnished with information. Otherwise, regional leaders should be ambassadors of such programmes.

The author is an urban and regional planning expert and lecturer at Makerere University.


+4 #1 Bogere Paul 2018-04-11 11:58
If an expert is writing this, tell me how do you expect a villager like me to write

In Uganda it is better not to go to school, you come out more misled. doesn't the whole country need to develop should we make the whole country Kampala so as to develop. Bogere
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0 #2 juwait kali 2018-04-11 12:00
Your name is ngabirano??
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+4 #3 Stewart 2018-04-11 13:05
We have talked enough about Kampala, everything about Uganda is centered on Kampala, when are we starting another capital city just as Nigeria and Tanzxania have done, Kampala is already a real mess and no amount of adjustment will make it any better, lets just get out of Kampala and give Kabaka space please, we have Nakasongola with an airpoet / field and Masindi Port which can make good locations Thanks
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+3 #4 juwait kali 2018-04-11 15:33
Bogere have you forgotten that In UG you just have to kuwaako the lecturer and you have your masters.

That's why when you come to Eu for studies you have to undertake a foundation.
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+2 #5 naboma 2018-04-12 08:51
Amanda i think you are being academic and intentionally ignoring the facts. Do you make a child run before they caan crawl?

Kampala is a mess, a shithole city and those who have failed to plan for it and effectively manage its affairs are clamouring for more space in mpigi, mukono and wakiso simply to export /extend their confusion and innefficiency and all a so called expert can do is simply support them??

Your conclusion applies to you-you are the ignorant one on this issue not those who oppose it-be real amanda, and practical, contextual-dont bring out all ideals you studies and justify them in the context of kampala.
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0 #6 ejakait engoraton 2018-04-13 17:26
Quoting juwait kali:
Your name is ngabirano??

Juwait kali, it's more like " "ngabilako"
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0 #7 juwait kali 2018-04-13 20:16
Ha ha ejakait it's because I visited one of neighbouring small country in east African, I have forgotten the name and I heard the same name used.
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0 #8 Apollo Ekelot 2018-04-16 13:50
Well said Amanda; The truth is that whether we like it or not we will one day have to do exactly that PLAN! Unfortunately, it will be too late, structurally complicated and costly.

What exactly is the reason for the resistance? Does anyone have the capacity to curtail this growth?

Kampala used to be called the City of Seven hills Old Kampala, Namirembe/Mengo, Mulago, Kololo/Nakasero, Kibuli, Rubaga, and Makerere but over time this has been overtaken and the quality of our lives has been deteriorating, with unplanned abodes characterised by poor drainage, absence of shared facilities, insecurity, paths for roads, dust all over, jams, industries in homes, noise etc.

GKMA has already happened but we still pretend it hasn’t. I aver by doing this we will be continue to wallow in misery because of resisting the inevitable!
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+1 #9 nkuutu kibedi 2018-04-16 15:01
Does this lecture have any idea what she is talking about? Or is she related to Musisi? How can you plan for your neighbor when you have miserably failed to plan for yourself?

This "teacher" has never been to Kampala, maybe! These hatched up ideas that she teaches should not be related to the real towns. She is trying to fit facts to theories instead of the reverse! Mukono; Mpigi and Wakiso should be left alone, instead of trying to qualify why Kampala has failed.

Fix Kampala before you think of fixing other areas. And remember, Miss Teacher, Kampala IS NOT UGANDA!!! Or you dodged that geography lesson! I pity your students....
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