Lira is now a City: What are the leaders, residents saying?

Lira City main street from Soroti road. File photo.

Lira—July 31, 2020: On Thursday afternoon, Parliament of Uganda approved the creation of new counties (46 new counties) in addition to five seats for the elderly persons.

The Legislative House also approved the operationalization of Lira, Hoima and Soroti Cities to start from July 1, 2020. These Cities were to start operations from July 2021.

This development has come as a “shock” to some who say, for example, Lira City, like any other, is lacking basic amenities to take-off.

Isaah Otto Amiza, a former Oyam South MP, and a resident, says the worst thing is that “these guys” have no sense of integrity and yet they are shameless. “All these bogus administrative units shall be dissolved in future when a serious government takes over.”

According to Mr Otto, politics of convenience destroys a nation.

Newton Odongo, an activist and a politician, says: “Sometimes you sit and wonder whether our political leaders are still normal! It’s even sad when you hear senior politicians trying to gain political capital in pushing for these unnecessary political representations to take effect.”

“These many constituencies and so-called cities make no economic sense at all.

There are countries in the world (10 times bigger than Uganda) with less than 200 MPs in Parliament. How about Uganda, which is just a size of a district or state in India or USA? In fact, there are some states or districts in India or USA whose economy is stronger than Uganda,” he opines.

Mr Odongo says what we have in Uganda is “disproportionate representation,” adding: “Imagine in Uganda some people (group) are having over 3 representatives in Parliament… really!! What nonsense is this?”

In an exclusive interview with TND News on Friday afternoon, Hon. Joy Atim Ongom who’s the Lira district Woman MP says she welcomed the upgrade, calling everybody to join hands in making Lira a better City.

“When we talk of a development, the coming up of a new city and also the administrative centres that will come within and we are relating it with forthcoming elections, I think that’s having a short sight, we have to see a bigger side, a bigger picture of it,” this was Atim’s first statement.

“The city has come to stay with us, and a city has so many benefits associated with it along line infrastructure development, employment, more industries that will create a lot of employment, tourism sector and also the welfare of the population shall change, and their mind-sets as well will have to change; business opportunities shall be as many as possible, and I think the city is going to expose us to the rest of the world.”

She says people should not think in line with politics, terming politics “a short live thing” but the city has come to stay.

The Woman MP says Lira City is “a vibrant, powerful” compared to other cities that have been created, adding further that “we are seeing a way of pulling the rest of the world coming to the country, to come to northern Uganda and also their vision should be in Lira City as a centre to invest in”.

MP Atim says doors must be opened for investors to come and invest in Lira City because it has massive investment prospects.

Asked why Lira City was approved to start in this financial year, if it’s not for political gains, she said: “Why should we keep on waiting if the rest are already moving?”

In a real sense, she says, Lira City should have taken shape in 2022/2023 but as Lango Parliamentary Group (LPG), they pulled it down to 2021/2022 fiscal year.

“But also, you know government programmes change overtime. If other Cities (other districts) are lobbying that their cities be pulled and brought down for as long as government can finance it, why can’t we (LGP) lobby ours in Lango and as Lira people to start in 2020. So, we feel we should also move with the majority…” she told this publication.

Similarly, Lira Municipality MP, Hon. Jimmy James Akena Obote told this same publication that “they have been on it for a long time, worked towards it, and it’s finally coming into existence. Now we have to nurture it, develop it, and i am sure Lira is a City we shall all be proud of in all aspects.”

Also asked why Lira City has started “now” as opposed to earlier arrangement of 2021/2022 financial year, he said it was actually to start in 2022/2023 before they made it to start in a former financial year (read this paragraph) and this one now (2020/2021).

“In one way, you can be happy it has happened, but this is just a beginning of what we need to do. We have to do a lot more to make the City something we can actually be extremely proud of and to be something we can celebrate,” MP Akena responded when asked if he’s happy about the upgrade.

He added that “we still have a lot of work to do, but this is a start.”

Brief history and population

At independence in 1962 Lira became a Town Council, and it was not until 1985 that it was elevated to a Municipal Council. For over three decades, Lira Municipality has been a central business hub for Lango sub-region.

According to the Uganda National Housing and Population Census of 2014, Lira Municipality had a population of 99,059 people. It saw a growth rate of 1.7 from the previous national census (2002) which had a population of 80,879 people.

However, with City now in place, the population will rise, with sub-counties like Lira and Adekokwok falling under Lira City Council administration.

Local Government Minister, Hon. Raphael Magezi is expected to officially launch the operations of Lira City next week, Thursday 6, August 2020.

Mike Ogwang Olwa Veve, the current Municipality Mayor, will be the first interim Lira City Mayor on Thursday. Publication’s WhatsApp No. + 256 752 169 448.

Previous Women can help Rwanda recover faster from Covid-19 pandemic
Next NRM 2nd national vice chairperson female race – Teso: Jane Okilli fires '1st bullet'