Who is to blame for Kampala illegal buildings?

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By AMOS NGWOMOYA

KAMPALA- Kampala cuts an image of growing high-rise buildings with beautiful architectural designs being erected in the city.
However, the collapse of some of these storeyed buildings depicts dubious means developers apply to set up these buildings.

Daily Monitor has learnt that some of these buildings have been constructed without proper structural designs and others constructed using poor building materials and without approval from Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

In some instances where buildings have come down, lives have been lost.
The breakneck speed at which some of the buildings in the city rise amid physical planning queries, is worrying, according to some building experts who say some builders are hard-pressed to complete these buildings as early as possible.

KCCA’s directorate of physical planning, is among others, mandated to ensure that all buildings erected in the city are in tandem with the physical planning framework.

On May 6, a four-storeyed building under construction collapsed in Buziga in Makindye Division, adding on the statistics of the previously collapsed buildings in the city.

Mr Moses Atwiine Kanunira, KCCA’s director of physical planning, told the council meeting at City Hall that the owner defied directives.

He said the developer violated the plan and constructed two extra floors after KCCA had approved a plan for only two floors.

“When we inspected the building last month, we realised that he was adding a third level but we gave him a notice to stop the redevelopment because he was building against the approved plan,” Mr Kanuniira told council.

With the rise of some illegal structures in the city, and the subsequent collapse of others, KCCA’s scorecard on physical planning comes in the spotlight.

Poor planning
Ms Amanda Ngabirano, an urban planning expert and lecturer at Makerere University, attributes the rise of illegal structures in Kampala to a conflict between revenue collection and physical planning in the city.

She says whereas KCCA is supposed to ensure order in the city, they prioritise revenue collections hence approving poor building plans.

Ms Ngabirano says some buildings within the city whose plans were approved by KCCA, are located in road reserves, something she says, compromises physical planning.

But in order for physical planning to thrive in the city, politics must be detached from city planning, proposes Ms Ngabirano.

Requirements
Before one embarks on developing land in the city, there are requirements, which they must fulfil for KCCA’s directorate of physical planning approval.

They include copy of land title(s), search statement within a period of three months from date of issuance, payment receipts, survey report from registered surveyor to ascertain open boundaries, verify location and check encroachment and two copies of architectural drawings signed by a registered and practicing architect.

Others are two copies of structural application certificates signed by a structural engineer, signed structural calculations, geotechnical report, excavation plan, traffic impact mitigation plan, environmental impact assessment plan and storm water management plan.

However, Mr Kanuniira says some developers defy laws choosing to use illegal means.

“As KCCA, we have always done our best by approving plans and inspecting all developments in the city. However, some developers deliberately alter the plans while others build at night when our inspectors aren’t available,” he says.

He also acknowledges the fact that they are short of workers to thoroughly inspect developments in the city, and funding.
Available statistics from KCCA show that the physical planning directorate is one of the least funded areas.

In the 2018/18 budget, documents show, physical planning received a paltry Shs3b out of the total budget of Shs461b.

Unfriendly guidelines
Mr Abubaker Kawalya, an engineer, says whereas every developer is required to heed set guidelines, some of the guidelines are harsh.
The bureaucracy in approving housing plans, Mr Kawalya adds, frustrates many developers hence they resort to building illegal structures.

“Some of the developers acquire loans to construct buildings only to be frustrated at KCCA when the plan takes ages to be approved. When you go there, they will tell you how they still have a backlog yet you are actually ready to develop your land,” he says.

According to KCCA’s website, approval of a plan takes less than a month, but it could stretch to two months due to the backlog.

Measures
Ms Ngabirano says to mitigate this problem, KCCA must ensure efficiency through having enough manpower to serve the people.

She says cases of connivance between developers and KCCA staff must be thoroughly probed to rid the city of uncoordinated structures.

“Physical planning is about protecting the environment, population, making money but above all, access to services. It should not, therefore, be the developer to direct the planning authority but vice-versa, lest the city gets messed up,” she says.

Uncoordinated city planning, according to Ms Ngabirano, affects the land pattern system, transport, businesses, and the general services.

Land policy
Mr Ronald Balimwezo Nsubuga, the Nakawa Division mayor, attributes the problem to the land policy in the city.

He says an overhaul in the entire physical planning policies has to be done to avoid illegal development caused by the ‘unfair’ land policies.

To reorganise the city’s physical planning, KCCA has embarked on neighborhood planning to ensure all structures constructed meet particular standards.

Mr Kanuniira recently told journalists at City Hall that the project, which will start with the precincts of Makerere, Mulago, Nakasero and Kololo, will be funded by the European Union, adding that the pilot study starts in September.

However, this plan does not cater for Kampala’s slums, where majority of illegal structures have since sprouted due to an urban population sprawl.
Asked why urban slums are not mentioned anywhere in the plan, Mr Kanuniira said redevelopment of city slums will be incorporated in the project at a later stage.

REPORT

A recent World Bank Report, “The role of the city governments in economic development of greater Kampala,” reveals that at least 50 per cent of the residents in the Metropolitan Area live in slums, which comprise of 62 per cent informal settlements in Kampala.

For instance, the report adds, the rapid growth of population and employment in Greater Kampala is forecasted at 10 million residents. Kampala alone, statistics show, has a day population of 4 million people and a resident population of 1.5 million people.

But the numbers keep on soaring. Section 22 (2) of the 2010 KCCA Act gives the Metropolitan Authority power to veto physical plans or activities that are inconsistent with Metropolitan Authority, the development plan or the land use.

SOME OF THE KCCA CHARGES IN NUMBERS
1,000/=: Architectural plans inspection per square kilometre of ground floor area.

30,000/=: Structural plans inspection per suspended slab.
50,000/=: Boundary wall inspection
100,000/=: Swimming pool inspection
100,000/=: Alterations/modifications
200,000/=: Major renovation permit
100,000/=: Alterations/modifications

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