Masaka Municipality suffers losses as private developers bribe to have plans approved

Masaka Municipality is losing millions of Shillings as private developers erect buildings without approved physical plans. The problem is blamed on corruption and thin number of staff in the physical planning department to enforce the physical planning regulations.

Approving a square meter on each physical plan costs Shillings 1000. However, a report by Masaka Municipality Technical Committee shows that dozens of unapproved buildings have sprung up. Uganda Radio Network has seen a list of ten buildings earmarked for demolition on grounds that they built illegally.

Last year, Masaka municipality demolished a commercial building belonging to Frank Tekaya, along Bukakata road in Nyendo trading center on grounds that it was erected in the road reserve. Tekaya dragged Masaka municipality to court for demolishing his building despite the fact that he had an approved plan.

Court ruled in favor of Tekaya and ordered Masaka Municipality to compensate him Shillings 800 million for illegally demolishing his building. The municipality has however appealed against the compensation. Tekaya claims that he met all physical planning requirements and paid for all the processes involved.

Joseph Kimbowa, the Masaka town Clerk says Tekaya’s plan was irregularly approved.

Kimbowa says although the physical planner, environment officer and health officer are supposed to issue permits, they don’t have a final say on the approval of the building plans, saying the powers lie in his office. According to Kimbowa, currently they only have a single physical planner yet it division has to have a planner.

He says the municipality is losing millions of Shillings in local revenue because many developers to pay for the approval of their building plans. According to Kimbowa, they have launched investigations into the physical plans of more than 40 new buildings in the municipality.

Martin Kigozi, the Physical Planner of Masaka Municipality, declined to comment on the matter, saying he isn’t authorized to speak to the media. However, many of the developers accused of flouting the physical planning regulations claim their plans are approved by the authorities.

One of the developers accused of building in the road reserve along Kidda road insists that their plan was approved by the municipality but declined to show our reporters copies of his plan. Joseph Lukwago, an Architect in Masaka town blames the physical planning on corruption and rampant transfer of civil servants.

Godfrey Kayemba, the Mayor Masaka Mayor Municipality says they need over 10 people to fill the vacant posts in the physical planning department. He however, they can’t recruit the required personnel without approval from the Public Service Ministry.

Last financial year, Masaka Municipality only realised 1.2 billion out of the projected Shillings 2 billion local revenue collection. Approval of building plans and permits is expected to generate at least 10 percent of the required revenue.