Minister Babalanda Calls for Enforcement of Jinja City Structural Plan to Attract Investors

The Minister for Presidency, Hon. Babirye Milly Babalanda has appealed to the leadership of Jinja to enforce the structural and building plans of the city in order to beautify and attract investors to the area.

“I am happy about the new structures coming up in the city but we should encourage the developers to construct more commercial structures than residentials,” she said.

The Minister made the remarks on Thursday 23rd November,2023 as she presided over the Jinja Business and investment Summit that was held at Jinja City Council headquarters. The summit ran under the theme: “Galvanising Investment for Infrastructure Development in Jinja City”.

According to Hon. Babalanda, better plans will multiply the number of business points and spread commercial activities throughout the city instead of the current small number of shopping outlets on Kutch, Nizam and Gokhale roads where the few shops are jammed with people.

“It is very dangerous to have a situation where a big percentage of Jinja is actually residential apartments. This defeats the business case for Jinja. We need to promote construction of commercial buildings,”she said after touring stalls of different exhibitors.

The Minister further noted that the Custodian Board properties in Jinja present a real stumbling block to turning around the city.

The city is made up of several of these properties with unresolved court cases. I advise the leadership of Jinja city to engage the Minister for Finance to discuss the fate of these properties so that Jinja can be opened up for real development. The properties have many running battles including questions about their ownership and they have kept Jinja’s development in limbo.”

Hon.Babalanda also decried the challenge of poor land management in the city, saying that if the issues of land are not resolved in Jinja city they will surely scare away investors.
She said several plots of land have multiple land titles and investors have lost money due to land frauds.

The Minister therefore advised Jinja city managers to come up with a clear system of land administration.

“There is no way we can look on as custodians of the city land when land grabbers and mafias forge land titles to steal land in the city,” Hon. Babalanda emphasised.

“I also advise that we open dialogue with investors to know their problems and to see how we can help them. I am happy that new factories are coming up in the city but we should woo the existing investors in order for them to attract others to come due to a welcoming investor environment in the city,” she added.

Hon. Babalanda also asserted that as leaders, they must ensure that the city roads are in good condition, especially those in the industrial areas.

“Bad roads in the city is the reason some industrialists are relocating to other parts of the country.”

Hon. Babalanda further advised that Jinja leadership also needs to maximise on the tourism potential of the city including deriving a Master tourist attraction plan specifically for Jinja City.

“On the other hand, reviving the Jinja Pier at Rippon can be a game changer to promote business using water and railway transport across Lake Victoria. We will need to engage with the Minister for Works and Transport to reinstate the Jinja Pier which was once a busy hub for East Africa,” she said.

On the other hand, Hon. Babalanda disclosed that she was disturbed to always find the city littered with much garbage and yet the blame is usually put on the leaders.

“I find that the citizens have not received much sensitization on their roles in cleaning their city. This garbage is generated by the residents but the leaders have not sensitised them on their role to manage their garbage. It is also an issue of the citizens not loving their city. Yet no investor can locate their business or investments in a smelling and garbage-littered city. No one will invest in a city which is dusty, which is noisy, which is stinking, lacks smart pavements and whose business premises cannot do business,” the Minister urged.

“It is important for Jinja to have a master plan to clean the city in all ways possible. The current leadership has tried to deal with this problem but a lot needs to be done. We need a comprehensive garbage management plan and to think of ways of adding value to our garbage e.g. turning the garbage into charcoal, or fuel etc. Notice that the Executive Order No. 3 stopped burning of charcoal especially in Northern Uganda which has been our main source. There is therefore a big need for cooking fuel in the country and such value additions would be much required.”

She concluded by thanking the leadership of Jinja City for organising the Summit, saying that it’s crucial for the development of the city.

“I do hope the above areas of importance can be used to discuss the other bigger subjects you raise for this meeting including ICT, transport, housing and social services. I will nonetheless find time and engage with the Business Community in the City over key issues of interest linked to the summit.”

Jinja Southern Division Deputy Resident City Commissioner (RCC), Mr. Henry Kitambura thanked the exhibitors for listening to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s message of value addition to Ugandan products.

“His Excellency would be very happy to see such young people adding value to Ugandan products. We should now reduce importing of goods and we substitute them with our products.We should work on improving on the standard and coding,” he said.

“Government has provided a conducive environment for investments, you should not worry about investing in Jinja, we have got you covered when it comes to security,” he further assured the business people.

The Deputy RCC also cautioned the people of Jinja against money lenders.

“These people with small businesses have suffered with money lenders, they are illegal because they don’t have operating licences. I’m appealing to you, don’t go to those money lenders, go to credible financial institutions for loans.”

On his part, the Jinja City Speaker, Mr. Bernard Mbayo thanked Hon. Babalanda for her continuous support towards the development of the city.

Mr. Mbayo also informed the Minister that as city leaders they are looking at various avenues that will steer the development of the area.

He said they have already secured land where a training centre will be set up in order to skill the youth as a way of fighting unemployment in the city.

“We also made a decision to create a land bank so that when an investor comes, it will be easy for us to allocate them land.”

Prof. Charles Kwesiga, the Executive Director of Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) said for industrialization to take shape in a country like Uganda, the choice of technology is very critical.

“Most enterprises depend on foreign technology yet some of it is not meant for our African countries,” Prof. Kwesiga said.
“For an enterprise to be successful, it needs to first deal with the problem of human capital, get appropriate technology, affordable housing and market,” he added.

Eng. Kenneth Kaijuka, the CEO of National Housing and Construction company (NHCC) advised that if Jinja City leadership is to attract more investors, it needs to first create an enabling environment.

“As we talk about investment, we should talk about stability.”

He also urged the city leadership to consider attracting investors to the lucrative housing sector.

“Housing is at the centre of the human life cycle, it supports hospitals, schools, tombs, industrial institutions, employment, places of worship, etc. There are a lot of investment opportunities in housing. Currently, Uganda has a housing Deficit of 7 million units,” Eng. Kaijuka said.

“Housing has the longest supply chain,thus creating more employment opportunities.”

The summit was also attended by the Jinja District RDC, Mr. Richard Gulume, Jinja Northern Division Deputy RCC,Mr. Juma Kigongo, investors, among others.