I am a crusader for Good Governance. My mission is to contribute to the promotion of Good Governance and more specifically Democracy ideal for Uganda.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
IT IS SAD THAT JENNIFER MUSISI'S MOTHER HAS PASSED ON
Madam Jennifer Musisi Semakula, we have learnt from CBS 88.8 FM the sad news of the death of your dear mother - Esther Kiwanuka. It is difficult time you and your family members and relatives are going through, however, we pray that the Almighty God comforts you.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
ONE YEAR ON - JENNIFER MUSISI HAS DELIVERED
Publish Date: May 01, 2012
Jennifer Musisi became the Executive Director of the newly constituted Kampala Capital City Authority on April 15th 2011. It has been an explosive year since then, full of confrontations and drama, but also full of achievements and steps forward. She sat down with Kalungi Kabuye in a wide covering interview. Excerpts:
Q: How would you describe your first year in office?
A: The year has been very eventful in different ways, mostly because we are setting up a brand new institution, the Kampala City Council Authority. There has been a lot of learning, but there has also been a lot of sheer hard work to get this institution started. When I reported last year, I had no staff; so basically I came in to set up this institution with no administrative structure, no budget, and no directors. And no politicians. Amidst all these challenges we have seen many good things happen and we are happy for the things that have gone well.
When you set out you had certain targets to meet, how far do you think you have gone into achieving these?
I cannot say that we have achieved the fundamental targets, because before you can set any goals and other deliverables for the institution, you have got to first set up the institution. In this one year, we have been able to draw up a new organizational structure and have been able to get it approved. We have also been able to draw up financial and accountability systems. We have been able to draw up, get approved and get provided for a budget for the new institution.
We have drawn up strategic plans, a vision, mission and objectives. We have determined goals for the institution going forward and we believe that the only remaining component for that is the staffing of the structure. You can have all these good things but you need the personnel to breathe life into the institution and that is what we are doing. Once the recruitment of staff under KCCA has been completed we will be ready to go.
But you obviously achieved something…
Yes, we have been able to restart basic services to the city, cleaned it up, and have upped garbage collection. I hope many people have realized that the city is now cleaner. We have started greening the city, worked on decongestion through the removal of street vendors and general visual de-cluttering of the city. We have put some water features in the place and really improved the way the way it looks. We have restored accountability and compliance in our stakeholders, recovered a lot of properties, streamlined operations and been able to deliver services like in our regulatory function.
The planning directorate has improved its speed of delivery like the approval of plans. We have put up street lights and improved road network in the Central Business District. Things have been good, considering the challenges we have had.
Does KCCA have enough money to do what you had planned for?
In the past one year we have significantly improved revenue collection, from about sh28b annually to a target of sh44b this year. In spite of the challenges we have collected over sh30b and it is not yet the end of the financial year, so we think we are going to reach that target and hopefully surpass it. This revenue is helping us do the things you are seeing take place in the city. For instance, we have increased revenue collections from the taxis from sh392m to about sh1.9b a month. Now we are going into other areas like trade licenses to improve collections from there. The markets have also not been remitting revenue so we are now in Nakasero and are moving to St. Balikudembe soon.
What do you see as the total revenue potential of the city?
It is difficult to tell because it has not yet been scientifically arrived at, we have not been able to capture all the revenue sources and their potential which is what we want to try and do, so that we can know all the revenue heads and try and get some statistics in terms of revenue generation. A lot of revenue was being lost by agents collecting for KCC, either they would not remit it or they would not collect it, or a mix of both. If we put the system that we have planned and started to implement in place; if we get professional, well-motivated staff we should be able to support our budget in the next 5 years and not go to government for funding.
What was your budget shortfall this year?
We submitted a budget for sh256b to government, but we eventually got sh144b including revenue approved. Of that sh44b is supposed to come from local revenue and that is why I’m saying we have collected sh30b so far. But even what government had approved to give has been affected by budget cuts since then. For example, we were given sh43b for the roads and then government asked us to use sh17b of that to pay contracts inherited from the Ministry of Works, so that money is not available to us. That affected our budget for roads, so we are not going to be able to do as much we wanted to, unfortunately.
But we are looking towards getting partnerships because it is probably unrealistic to imagine that the government will fund us 100% in all the areas that we want funded. That is why we are not only enhancing our own revenue collection but are also looking at partners to help us. We are pursuing a partnership funded by the Chinese government to do our infrastructure in the city. If we have that taken care of (the major roads) then we will be able to use our budget for other areas.
The other initiative we have taken is that we are approaching development partners and agencies, all sorts of them. We had a donors conference recently, just to tell them what our vision is, what we have managed to achieve, what we need to achieve, and where the gaps are and asking them to see where they can come in to support us and we got a very positive response. So we think that working the three together will help us get a better budget.
There are some obvious areas of concern to Kampala residents, how have you addressed them?
One major area of concern is the bitumen road network within the Central Business District and the gravel roads in the outskirts. The public expected the roads to magically transform into first class roads in the first two weeks I was in office. We have not been able to do that but we have been able to improve the roads a lot. We have done a lot of road repairs where there have been pot holes, resurfaced some major roads, and improved gravel roads. We have not done 100% of all the roads in the city, basically because we do not have the budget to do it.
What are the roads you have worked on?
We have worked on roads such as the Gadhafi road, the old Kampala-Makerere road, Allen road, Buxton Street in the lower CBD, Sikh lane, Namirembe Road, Channel Street, Ben Kiwanuka Street, Upper Kololo road above the airstrip and others.
We have also done a lot of work on the drainage system to alleviate the problem of flooding by de-silting and de-clogging of the drainage system. There were almost zero street lights when we came in, but we have installed 2,087 street lights on 75 or so roads in the CBD and areas like Katwe.
We are moving into the outer areas of the city. The major challenge has been theft of the electricity fixtures, the switches and wires; and we also found that the utility companies have damaged a lot of wiring because of cutting across the roads and walk ways.
What about garbage collection? That is a major Kampala problem
We have increased collection by 37.5% from where we found it. We have also been able to install about 750 garbage trash cans in the city. We are partnering with the communities to see how they can improve garbage collection. We are also doing a lot of sensitization to get locals to own and take care of the city. The communal involvement with the Kampala City Yange foundation, to get the public to participate in cleaning the city, is taking off very well.
Which companies are licensed to collect garbage? There was confusion in the past as to which ones are licensed
There are company’s licensed to collect garbage, but the law states that the person generating garbage should take care of its disposal. That means that if you cannot dispose of it yourself, you have to pay someone to do it for you. We have been supplementing that as the City Authority because many people are unaware, or they do not want to pay for it. So there are companies that have been licensed to collect garbage for a fee, which happens in every city. But as KCCA we have been collecting garbage and we will continue doing so while sensitizing the community. At some point the communities will have to make a contribution to the removal of the garbage they generate but it is going to be a process. We have also been punishing people that drop trash in the city.
What percentage of garbage collection is done by Private companies?
The biggest part is done by us, but we found there were companies contracted by government to clean the city. We paid them about sh2b a month but they were not doing a good job so when these contracts have expired we have not renewed them. So the ladies and men you see cleaning the streets now in KCCA reflectors are people that we pay. We are doing this to achieve at least three aims. One, we use community organizations by giving them an area, which is creating jobs for the people. Secondly, we are creating ownership of the city because if they are cleaning the city they begin to love and own it, that’s why you see them work incredible hours just to keep the city clean. But meanwhile, we are also getting a cleaner city because these people are doing such a good job. Going forward we will continue to employ the youth, the women and the widows - people that have otherwise been unemployed. The people you see cleaning and building ramps are people that we get from the communities through partnerships.
What about Kampala traffic, which is crazy at the best of times?
We found traffic management plans in place that have not been implemented for various reasons, but we are reviewing traffic flow patterns in the city and looking to create alternatives. The plan of having buses was to reduce on the number of cars getting into the city.
The road network that we have today was designed in the 50’s and 60’s for a small number of cars. The roads are old and narrow, and there are too many roundabouts that should not be in a modern city. Ideally the roads should have been redesigned and replaced. If we get funds we would be able to do a lot of these things. Right now we are looking at putting traffic lights where there are none, and eventually remove some of the roundabouts. Our plan has fly overs in certain areas starting with the Kitgum house, Electoral Commission, Nakumatt junction, but that’s in the long term. Also part of the metropolitan physical development plan is to decongest the city so that people do not have to come into the city to shop and bank and do stuff.
Hopefully government will relocate some of its ministries out of the city to increase the already limited parking space, because almost every government ministry building has a no parking zone around it.
If we had enough buses hopefully that will drive most of the smaller commuter vans (taxis) out of the city and into the outskirts.
Currently there are only 100 buses, how many are there supposed to be?
The Bus Company has informed us that the next bunch of 100 buses is ready to be shipped next month (May) and should be here in the next three months. But indications are that even the next 100 buses will not meet the demand, so our arrangement with them is another 100 every month and eventually have 520 buses on some routes. Other routes will not have any buses because of the way the contracts were drafted. Some will have abundant buses, while others will have zero buses until we get another service provider to provide buses for those, we did not want a monopoly for the entire city.
What are the issues with Mukono and Wakiso districts?
The contract with Pioneer Easy Bus is for the provision of buses for Kampala city and not beyond that. So if Mukono and Wakiso want to have the buses they have to enter some formal agreement with the bus company.
And then there are the boda bodas
We have a plan for the Boda-bodas but we will first partner with them, sensitize them, and then implement. We need to count and register them first, and then set basic regulations. I have a meeting scheduled with their 12 elected leaders next week. We want to begin working with them on how to improve their industry in the city. You realize that you cannot just pluck them off the streets and throw them away. You have to have a plan of what happens after that, and how they can continue to earn an income.
So what plans do you have?
Initially we need to get a hold of the statistics and then provide alternatives, perhaps we should have specific numbers in specific divisions, so if you are in Makindye you operate from there, if you are Nakawa, you operate there so that we do not have 80,000 boda-bodas roaming the city all the time.
We intend to carry out some basic training for them because of the traffic nuisance that they have become, and then also give them alternatives. The KCCA has funds that we give out to create employment and so far we have funded about 430 groups. So far we have given out over sh1b to low income groups to facilitate them to do business, and they can also benefit from those programs, so not all youth look to become boda boda riders.
The police seem to let boda bodas do what they want, how are you going to address this, for example get them off the pavements and walkways?
There is no way you can implement any traffic program without the participation of police. However at the moment the police, like anybody else, is overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the boda bodas. So the numbers have got to be controlled, and they are also a security concern.
Is there political pressure for them to stay?
There are people from the political side saying that these are our voters, poor Ugandans, and that we are being elitist and discriminatory. Many members of the public are telling us to just get rid of them and throw them out of town like we did with the street vendors, but these people need a livelihood, so we have to balance employment and social issues; all those tender areas that come with trying to enforce the changes in a multi-faceted society like we have in the city. We have to provide some alternatives so you do not have this whole mass of people just ganging up and protesting because they have nothing to do.
KCC was probably one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, what have you done about it?
We have recovered large amounts of money, for example sh60b from fictitious and defective supplies, and at least sh56b on undeclared accounts. We have recovered a lot of properties like the Sezibwa Road and Mabua Road houses; the Kikajjo land, and the area that is fenced off opposite the railway station. We also cancelled some leases that were irregularly awarded, reclaimed some property like vehicles, and clamped down on fuel abuse from sh240m a week to about sh45m. Right now we have over 50 criminal files involving mostly our staff that is in the process of being prosecuted.
There has been a huge problem in corrupt and illegal licensing of structures in the city
The institution had died, whereas KCC was supposed to be the regulator, it was now participating in breaching its own regulations, but we are working on changing that round. You will appreciate that we are still working with a lot of staff who were under KCC so some cases of malpractice are still going on. That will reduce when we get more professional staff with a high level of integrity on board. But we have recently discovered that a lot of the documentations, like permits and licenses, purportedly given by KCCA are actually forgeries. There are more forgeries in the Taxi revenue documentation, fraudulent bank stamps, fraudulent bank advice forms, and all that.
For example Centenary Park?
That contract was not supervised properly, there was a breach, so we are addressing that and we shall take remedial action. We will give the details on what is going to happen in that area in the coming future but it is just one of the contracts that were mismanaged under KCC.
Are the irregularly offered contracts reversible?
Legally if your officer irregularly issues out a document you can reverse it but you also have to prosecute the officer. Those are some the things that we are doing now. A road reserve is a road reserve, so getting a permit to build on a road reserve is not right. We did demolish a lot of illegal structures, the last time I checked we had demolished 250 illegal structures on road reserves, walls and semi-permanent structures build in road reserves.
But in the city centre we had to do a technical assessment so we set up a technical team from the architects association, engineers, and the Ministry of Lands to assess those buildings. Their findings were that a lot of them had actually breached the building regulations, so one of the options we had was to penalize them, but the penalties in place are not punitive enough to cause serious compliance.
The next option we had was to demolish the structures. But these buildings were so poorly built that if you removed some of the shops underneath you would compromise the stability of the building, and they would crumble. If you demolish one, many others would crumble. So we stepped back and said maybe we should penalize them.
A few of the owners have actually reconverted the areas back into parking spaces. But going forward we are not going to approve any building plans without parking spaces. And we are supervising to ensure that the parking space is put in place during construction, otherwise we will not give an occupation permit when the building is completed. We are penalizing some and demolishing others. The technical team gave us an initial report, but it is doing more work and will come up with recommendations that will guide us going forward for the remedial actions for each circumstance.
One of the problems we have in Uganda is proper maintenance of structures once put up, how will you deal with that?
One of the things that we keep telling the public is that the responsibility of transforming the city has got to be shared. No matter much money the government throws into KCCA, no matter how good our plans are, the public has to be involved to maintain the city. If the public continues trashing on the streets and stealing our trash cans like they have been doing; pulling out wires, stealing street lights and throwing garbage though car windows, it will be counterproductive. We have spent a lot of money in greening the city, buying grass and flowers and paying money for labour, but the public is pulling out these plants, walking on them and bruising the plants, so they are dying. In the evening they lie on the grass and kill it.
Whenever it rains and the drainage is clogged we send out teams who find fragments of bricks in the drainage channels, foetuses, polythene bags, dead bodies and all manner of junk in there.
So no matter how much money we spend on de-clogging and de-silting, if the public does not change its practices we are not going to win. I was given a bill of sh600m to de-clog a certain part of Nakivubo Channel that had been clogged with plastics in one spot and yet there are eight spots. I do not have the budget to do that continuously, so the only salvation is for the public to stop using the channel as a trash dump.
We are already seeing some changes, but we intend to use a multi-faceted approach, one is sensitizing the public to love their city. We have people reprimand others for trashing on the streets and report others for trying to steel our bins and lights, and we have arrested some and that is a good thing. We have had maybe 70 people arrested and prosecuted for trashing. We are going to continue sensitization on radio, papers and in communities using our political leaders at different levels for the public to appreciate what it means to leave in a clean environment. So it has to take all of us. We are going to schools and addressing assemblies so that the children can grow up while appreciating the value of a clean environment. So it is a multifaceted approach.
In all this how much has politics been a hindrance?
Much of it has been as a hindrance and has had a negative effect on the economic sector. The business community is what gives us revenue through property rates, trading licenses, hotel tax, and local service tax. But if they are interrupted in their work because of a political occurrence then that is bad for us as the Authority because it makes the city insecure, it makes people afraid to come and do business and trade in the city. It’s been disruptive and diversionary but it has not stopped us from achieving a lot of good things. Going forward we hope that even politically things will settle down. I respect the fact that we are adjusting to a new law with the creation of the KCCA, but the politicians need to respect that. We all need to respect that the city is being managed away from the politics, and is being managed like a corporate entity.
And the wrangles with the Lord Mayor?
A lot of the wrangles are simply perceptions, and what the public and the Lord Mayor perhaps sees as acrimony is the new law. Power sources have changed, financial control changed, and functions changed. When we implement the law there has been a lot of misunderstanding which is perceived as a wrangle. For example one of the duties of the Executive
Director is to advise the City Authority headed by the Lord Mayor on legal matters. So where I have had to advise the Lord Mayor on some matters, it has been perceived as a wrangle with the politicians.
Where I have had to give advice on matters financial it has been perceived as opposing the politicians, but I am legally required to do that. I’m also legally required to be the head of the public service of the institution, to be the spokesperson, to implement government programs, and to be the coordinator with government. There are a whole host of responsibilities that the law gives me and that are what I have been doing. But that takes away a lot that was being done by the politicians in the past. But on the technical side we have a strategy, a plan and we have key deliverables that we have set for ourselves within certain timeframes and we are doing very well. I don’t know about the politicians and there deliverables, I know about us and I think we are making a lot of progress.
Has the relationship with other politicians generally improved over the year?
Yes, definitely. I think I would say our relationship with the politicians may be 90% positive. The other government organs that comprise politicians have been working, and even today they are meeting, they are discussing policy issues, making recommendations and getting reports ready. What we are waiting for is an ordinary Authority meeting, which the Lord Mayor is supposed to call, to present what they have been working on. So we relate very well, we interact with them and on the whole we are working well with the politicians. We long moved away from the divisions and disparities.
There has been a bit of frustration on their part, whereby the divisions are not functioning as they should financially because the law centralized all the financial management here in the office of the Executive Director, away from the divisions. The law gives the Executive Director powers to delegate as she deems fit to the division Town Clerks. But Town Clerks have not been appointed because the staff structure was approved just last month. Adverts have been put out and we should be getting town clerks appointed before too long and delegate some of my financial roles, hopefully before the end of the financial year.
The divisions will then be functioning in terms of having sub-accounting officers stationed there, but in the meantime every division that has been bringing programs for funding we have been funding them.
What are your plans for next year?
When the organization is fully in place we will start on what we set out to do. We have a very vibrant gender directorate that works on the economic empowerment of the youth, job creation programs, and projects such as renovating markets that is going to continue. In the engineering and technical services we are going to continue fixing roads and build structures. We want to renovate our over 100 primary schools. We are also moving towards recycling garbage and right now we are looking at proposals.
So far we have gotten proposals from 50 countries from all over the world, including Uganda, that we are getting a consultant to assess and get the best. We are looking to generate bio energy from the waste as one of the projects, we have done some initial tests as one of the programs we want to do in the short run. We are looking at teaching the communities to sort and recycle waste, and are putting up waste recycling centres. We already have one in Namuwongo and are looking at putting up others in other divisions.
In the health segment we are soon taking over Naguru hospital, we want to improve the services being offered there and equip it better. We are looking at renovating health centres such as in Kisugu, Kawempe and others to give better services to people. In the revenue segment we intend to improve revenue collection and our planning and projects; we want to improve on those services and roll them out to the divisions.
Can you paint a picture of what Kampala will be like next year?
We have a vision to create a liveable, sustainable, healthy and really nice city, but we can only do that with other contributing factors in place. If we had adequate provisions in terms of financing we could be able to do that because we are accountable people and we have set up good systems of accountability.
If we had more funding we would do more; if we had all the staff on board we would do more; if we got out of politicking to concentrate on where we would like the organization to go as a city Authority we would achieve more. Well as we have a vision to transform Kampala very significantly, there are many other factors that play into that. I do not want to promise things that I am not able to deliver on, I want to work realistically. But our commitment is to significantly improve Kampala and make it a better city for everybody.
You have said you have no life, and that life is increasingly being threatened with harm, why do you do it?
Because it is my city, it is my children’s city and will be their children’s city. We cannot all go away and live elsewhere, somebody has to do it, and I will do my part. When my contract is over after three years I will hand over to somebody else and they will do their part. I also believe in God, and believe I have a calling to do what I can for Kampala.