Lira—26, November 2021: State minister of Lands Housing and Urban Development Kania Mario Obiga is worried about the ‘rampant land conflicts’ in Uganda.
While in Lira City Thursday, Lands state minister, Obiga, warned that land conflicts in Uganda could become a potential security threat.
“Forget about the land conflicts in the urban centers, but even in villages, you find a son killing his father over land saying he [his father] is too old and taking forever to die because he wants to inherit the land.”
The minister was at the Coronation Park lunching the second phase of USMID project.
He also used the function to castigate civil servants at the Lira Zonal Land Office over delays in issuing land titles and claims on extortion of money from the locals for services.
“You are in that office and you want to be bribed for offering services, then just resign, it won’t take us one day before we get your replacement,” Obiga told corrupt lands officials.
He was responding to an issue raised by Mayor of Lira City, Sam Atul who accused Lira district leadership of fraudulent land sales within the city which is no longer under their jurisdiction.
However, minister Obiga commended Lira for attaining a city status saying, “Many municipalities did not meet the criteria.” He charged that Lira City can only develop through an effective leadership and teamwork.
He said Lira performed so well in the Phase One of USMID program, but said the City leadership should not relax. “Perform excellently in the phase two projects which I launched today,” he urged.
While reporting on the status of USMID in Lira City, deputy City Clerk, Patrick Ogweng said: “USMID has greatly transformed urban centers and cities across the country and it is one of the best performing projects of the World Bank in this region.”
He, however, observed that negotiations with the World Bank and designs of the roads caused ‘a time lag’, but said Lira City leadership is committed to implementing the project since USMID is performance-based.
“Hon minister most times we have been on the site and we have told the contractor that we shall not compromise on quality.”
On the chronological growth of Lira to a City status, Ogweng said in 1919, Lira was a trading center. Then in 1933, it became a township; in 1954, it was elevated to a town board while in 1962 it attained the status of a town council.
In 1985, he said it was granted a municipal council status.
On July 1, 2020 Lira municipality was lifted to become a City, one of the three from Northern Uganda.
Ogweng further observed that Lira City is the 5th largest contributor of local revenue, according to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
“Shillings 37b in grants has so far been disbursed to Lira since it was a municipality,” he announced, Thursday.
He also commended the government for its support to transform the urban areas but called on the need to develop the annexed sub-counties that have become part of the city.
The City Mayor Sam Atul proposed on the need to prioritize planning by developing safelight cities within Lira City so that development can be taken to them.
Atul appealed for support for a “master physical plan” for Lira City, adding that the ministries of lands, finance, and public service should institute statutory bodies especially on the approval of the city land boards.
“If I don’t have a city service commission, how do I recruit an environment officer to support land management in Lira City East or West?” He asked.
Lira Resident City Commissioner (RCC) Lawrence Egole said infrastructure is the backbone of the country and commended the government for supporting roads development in Lira City.
Egole also lambasted Lira district local government for fraudulent land sales and urged Obiga to handle the matter expeditiously because it is alarming.
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Joseph Walter Padi, a commissioner in the ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development said in 2013 when they started USMID projects in the country, the major aim of the government was to develop the infrastructure fabrics of the urban areas and said Lira did not disappoint.
“There have been some delays by the contractor and times has been lost. I urge the contractor to do due diligence and ensure value for money.”
About 150 people are to be employed in the construction of the children park in Adyel, Lira City West, according to the contractor, Abubaka Technical Services.
“Every area has mansions and electricians and my point is where local labor is. Let’s use them and businesses wise it is cheaper,” Minister Obiga observed.
Among some of the projects that will be taken care of in the Phase Two of the USMID Support Financing include tarmacking of Uhuru Road, Olwol Road, and beautification of the children’s park in Adyel. The latter will have a swimming pool, perimeter wall, and a multipurpose playing arena, among others.