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Mixed reactions as parliament approves immediate operationalization of Soroti, Lira cities

Parliament has approved a motion by Minister of Local Government Raphael Magezi to bring forward the commencement date for the cities of Lira, Soroti and Hoima to 1 July 2020.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Leaders in Soroti and Lira have expressed mixed reactions to the immediate operationalization of both cities.

In April, Parliament approved the creation of 15 cities which would start operations in a phased manner. The cities that would take effect July 1 are Fort Portal, Masaka, Mbarara, Gulu, Mbale and Arua.

Soroti, Lira and Hoima were expected to start operations in the 2021/2022 financial year.

However, on Thursday, the Minister of Local Government Raphael Magezi sought approval from Parliament to adjust the date of operation for the three cities to July 1 2020.

He argued that he noted that the three cities would miss-representation yet they come into effect just a few months after the general elections.

Following the announcement by the Minister, Moses Otimong the Soroti town clerk called for an emergency meeting on Friday to form a steering committee for the inauguration of Soroti city scheduled for August 10th, 2020.

However, the district and municipal council are yet to harmonize on the city boundaries and which areas will be annexed to the city.

Otimong says he is yet to receive instruments from the Ministry of Local Government about how to proceed with the city status.

Paul Omer, the Mayor of Soroti says that although the city status has come abruptly, they are ready to work with the local community to ensure that it serves the interests of the local people. He also noted that city status is a wakeup call to mobilize for resources.

Gregory Egunyu, the LCV chairperson Soroti says the city is a welcome idea and they are prepared to accord any help for its development. When asked whether the district is prepared to relocate as the city takes over its facilities, Egunyu said that the decision will be made on Monday.

The announcement also triggered excitement from politicians who have declared intentions to contest for different elective positions in the new city.

Jonathan Ebwalu, the manager of Voice of Teso, said that he will contest for the Western Division MP.

In Lira, a section of the residents were excited while others noted that the area is not ready for city status.

Rashid Acup, a political analyst is not excited about city status. He says that it was hastily announced when the authorities are not prepared.

Mary Atim, a businesswoman in Lira town is happy about the development and says for the city to develop, it needs a collective responsibility.

“It’s our city, we need to own it and make every effort to make it a great city. Our participation and support of this city matter a lot.”

Issa Otto Amiza, the former Oyam South Member of Parliament says that the government is not in a position to develop the new cities. He also added that the plans developed by the new cities cannot be easily achieved.

Morris Chris Ongom, a member of the Lira Municipal Development Forum said he is excited by the news. He however says that for the city to be successful it should have well-trained leaders who will work towards the development of the city.

Geoffrey Omara, the Lira municipal physical planner says plans were already underway to welcome the city status although it was meant to come in 2021.



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