Exclusive Interview: EXAMINING KCCA ED ENG. KITAKA AT CITY HALL: WHAT THE NEW CONTRACT MEAN

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By Meddie Kityo

ON DECEMBER 18th 2018, Eng. Andrew Mubiru Kitaka completed his first year at City Hall, in the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Acting Executive Director capacity.

Eng. Kitaka came in after Ms. Jennifer Ssemakula Musisi resigned one of the most top paying jobs in Uganda citing sabotage by the politicians and accordingly, constrained her in that, she couldn’t go on with the job.

In her 21 pager notice of resignation dated October 15th 2018 to the president who appointed her into this office seven and half years, Musisi said, with her Technical Team they  made progress towards transforming Kampala but she was not able to continue serving in this position.Musisi officially left office on December 15th 2018.

Three days later, Eng. Kitaka was appointed Acting ED, to date.

In a letter to Eng. Kitaka dated January 10th 2020, Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary  Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire wrote , “I am pleased to inform you that His Excellency the President has, in exercise of the powers vested in him under Article 172 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Uganda directed that your appointment as KCCA executive director be extended for a period of six months with effect from December 18, 2019 to June 18 2020.”

In an exclusive interview with the News Editor (NE), Eng. Kitaka takes us through his first year as KCCA top boss and challenges he has faced since he put on Jennifer Musisi shoes.

FULL INTERVIEW: 

NE: It is now a year since you took over as Acting Executive Director Kampala Capital City Authority. Tell us, how have you found Jennifer Ssemakula Musisi shoes?
KITAKA: First of all, it is an honour to have this opportunity to serve the people of Kampala and the Country at large. Kampala is a very important city in the Country right now the population is about 1.6M people at night and during the day, it goes to 4M people which makes it a very large City. Therefore, to be at the helm of administering it, is an honour.
Ofcourse it is a challenge to be the leader of this institution because of the diversities that we have to cater for, we have the ordinary people, the politicians,  many dignitaries in the City and the Institution itself. Obviously,  we are supposed to deliver services despite the fact that we manage so many interests, we still have to be  moving forward.
In terms of service delivery, it’s quite challenging to deliver services in a situation where you are financially constrained and at the same time you have to show impact. So you have to choose very carefully.

NE: You mean Eng. Kitaka, you dont have finances to run the Authority?
KITAKA: The budget that we have from Government is not sufficient to make us move as faster as we want.

NE: Was your budget cut?
KITAKA: Actually this financial year, our budget for road fund has been cut substantially and we are still in discussion with the Ministry of Finance to get it re-instated.

NE: Dont you think that KCCA budget was cut following what the President said sometime ago about how your predecessor Jennifer Ssemakula Musisi was given a lot of  money to run the city but instead,  she spent tax payers money extravagantly?
KITAKA: Not really, I don’t think so because this Budget has always been for service delivery, it is not for paying salaries. The previous year we were getting UGX 30.5B annually for road fund which is for road  maintenance and this year has been cut by UGX 8B which is a large proportion given that we have a large road network to maintain and we are also increasing on the value of the infrastructure of these roads because we have Street lighting, installing traffic lights meaning that the maintenance of the roads is now not only the surface of the road we have to maintain the walk ways, the under ground drainages because we are constructing walk-ways under which there are under ground drainages.
We have to maintain the street lights, as the city expands it also needs maintenance.  And then the traffic  lights, they have expanded substantially meaning that road maintenance is getting more and more costly and yet the budget is diminishing. So that is a challenge.
The other challenge is that, to date we have not identified the source of funding to carry out major drainage works in the City and yet drainage is one of the major challenges in the City especially, whenever it rains parts of the City floods.Sometime back, with funding from the World Bank, we prepared the Kampala drainage master plan which gives us a lot of information on the flood prone areas and what has to be done. Certain major drainage channels were identified which need to be worked on and these were subsequently designed and even tender documents prepared but we are unable to tender because we don’t have funding.
Drainages like Nalukolongo, Kinnawattaka, Kansanga Channel that one which crosses Gaba road and many others. So we only have money now to do the rest of Lubigi Channel from Bwaise round about to Hoima road to line it fully and Nakamiro Channel which is a tributary of Lubigi and runs across Nabweru road within Kawempe Division. So those ones we are starting any time because tender evaluation has been completed. So that is all we can do yet there is a lot we would like to do in the area of drainage.
We are fortunate that the fly-over project is going to address the drainage problem at the preparation Clock Tower. We have partnered with UNRA and shared with them our designs for that area and they have take in on-board that project because it would be pointless to do fly-overs, improve junctions in that area without looking at drainage. So Clock Tower is going to be sorted.
So we are still looking for a development partner to fund drainage.
With regard to other infrastructure, we are fortunate to have support from development partners. Recently we got a big grant from JICA to improve certain junctions in the city, construct traffic control centre at KCCA headquarters. So it will give us a good platform to manage traffic over a wide area in the City because all junctions are going to be connected and shall be able to give appropriate good time to  diffrent directions where traffic will be going.
Also it is worth noting that KCCA is partnering with police and have signed an MOU to share infrastructure in the City. We gave police permit to install their ducts all over the city to put fibre for the cameras. In return, police has also given us space in some of these ducts to run our fibre for connecting the junctions which is postive because it means we don’t have again to dig the city. This is also beneficial to police because it is also in charge of enforcing traffic regulations.
In addition to that, we are also a project for increasing the number of street lights in the city, we have carried out a street light master plan for the entire city and we are right now doing feasibility study for selected areas. We are using funding from the French Development Agency and by early next year, this project will be rolled.
The lighting will increase security,road safety at night, to enhance the functionality of security cameras because with light,cameras will see better.
So these are projects which are completely.
We want to encourage building owners to install CCTV cameras. One area where government can be supportive, is to reduce taxes on the acquisition of CCTV so that every body can easily access it. With cameras everywhere, criminality in Kampala will be minimised.
We are at the advanced stages of preparing big road improvement project with the African Development Bank (ADB). This project is bigger that KIIDP which is on-going.
The ADB project will cover about 67Kms of roads in the city of which, about 18Kms will be for four-lane roads dual car lane ways. So if you look at the equivalent two-lane  roads, it is like 85Kms of roads. We expect to have financing agreements signed this year and then next year, we start implementation.
That is the major project in the city and if you combine it with the junctions that we shall be doing, the lighting and the on-going World Bank funded road projects which we recently inaugurated, the fly over project, Kampala I can say, will be a Construction site. Everything will be under rehabilitation and improvement.
KCCA has a lot better of plans for service delivery and it is not only the infrastructure.
We are also constructing markets to provide the work space. Kasubi Market is going to be inaugurated this year and that will free-up all that space which vendors have been occupying at Kasubi junction so that the junction can be signalised. In the other project, it wasn’t signalised because we had no where to take the vendors but now we are creating them spaces and as soon as they  move, that junction will also be improved.

NE: How many vendors will the new Kasubi market place accomodate?
KITAKA: I think it will take 900 vendors. And if there will be others who will not fit in, we have plans of expanding that market to take on the extra but at least those who are encroaching on the roads and its reserves will all have gone away.
NE: Some vendors say the new market place is inconvenient, its location is in a corner and accessibility looks to be hard by their customers. Are you not wasting tax payers’money in another USAFI – like market?  Don’t you think vendors will reject it?
KITAKA: The market is at the side of the road and accessible. Visit it, you will see the standard and the quality of space is much better than where they are working from now. We shall put their markets to ensure road safety. Where they are now, many of them are being knocked.
We also have Busega market funded by ADB and a very big project. Once Busega market is completed, it will decongest Busega round about and there will be no reason for any one to trade on the roadside. This year, Busega market will also be put to use.
In Kitintale, Nakawa division we have started constructing the market and the work space for the artisan.

NE: Do you have any plan of making a 39 Billion Usafi market useful?
KITAKA: This is an existing market. We have plans for upgrading it further although the funding has not been yet obtained we are still doing the master plan for that area but as it is now, we want to improve the connectivity to the taxi park because the two are independent where there are people,there will always be customers for the market. So we want to improve connectivity to USAFI market to the park to make it more vibrant. Then later, we want to construct a market in Gaba. The land was already acquired but we are still looking for the money. We want to construct a market in Kamwokya. We are moving steadily. So there will be enough work spaces for the informal Sector,  artisans, within a short period of time.
We are also in advance stages of starting procurement of waste management services in the City.  We currently have some concessionaires whose contracts were extended for one year within which we are supposed to procure new concessionaires with higher capacity. We currently have Nabugabo Updeal ventures and Home Klean. These are local companies and you know the capacity they can manage.

NE: During his 2018 tours in Kampala. His Excellency the president got complains out about these companies on how they are incompetent and their charges for collecting garbages are too high. He directed KCCA to take on garbage collection since it is your mandate. Again you renewed their contracts?

KITAKA: We talked to the President and explained why as of now, KCCA cant manage garbage collection on its own. That is not yet possible because we need to renew our fleet for collecting garbage which money we don’t have. Actually, the little we have is doing a great job to fill in the gap where the local companies may not have capacity. So we are still collecting a lot of garbage.
We have done a feasibility study with the International Finance Coperation (IFC) which is an arm of the World Bank and has been completed. We are in advanced discussions with the PPP unit of ministry of Finance to allow us advertise an expression of intrest which will bring us on board international players who will be encouraged to team up with our local ones to manage the entire value chain of garbage management in the City, connection, transportation, treatment and may be producing energy out of it or other products. So we are hoping, this is something we can realise with in this financial year to have new concessionaires on board. Ofcourse, KCCA is multi-sectoral, we fit under many sector ministries and again this is another challenge. We have many reporting centres. When you look at Engineering, we are members of the working transport sector group headed by the Minister of Works. Gender is under the Gender, Social sevices group ministry of Gender. Public health is under Health Sector working group ministry of Health. Environment is under water and Environment.  Physical Planning is under ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban development.  Education is under Education sector of Ministry of Education and Sports. Our Admin  has to frequently to liase with the Ministry of Public Service. We have three commission that give us staff. There is the public commission, the health service commission and the education service commission.  So, we have so many reporting centres. We are also members of the accountability sector. There are so many partners that we have to work with. Then after that,we have the Political wing. The Authority also has many standing committees, they  have a standing committee which overseas every Directorate and then we have the City Public Accounts Committee, we have Public Administration Sector a committee under the Ministry of Finance  which is also an audit committee and that is on top of the other audit functions of the Auditor General and COSASE.
So, amidst all that, KCCA has to deliver services to Kampala people.

NE: Having many reporting centres, you call it a challenge? How then do you want KCCA to be treated? 
KITAKA: Not all organisations are set up this way. Look at Authorities like UNRA, it’s services are for one particular area, that is road management and belongs one sector. So things are a little bit more straight forward but we are managing this challenging environment may be being a city, it must have all these areas of operation. Under revenue collections, our revenues have increased significantly from when we started. There is a debate going on what should be the property rates and consultations are going on

NE: How has the revenue increased?
KITAKA: It has increased from UGX 30B to UGX 90B, the highest Kampala has ever collected. We have Treasury Services which manages the expenditures. We separated collections from expenditures

NE: Talk about KCCA staffing.
KITAKA: We are in a situation where  there are a number of staffing issues to sort out. And this has brought on board  some anxiety but there is no other way of doing it if we are to put things right. Working with the Public Service Commission,  within a few months from now, the staffing issue will be sorted out.

NE: How is the relationship between the Technical wing you lead with the Political wings led by the Lordmayor. Did you pick it from where can madam Musisi left it? Are the two wings at war?
KITAKA: We made it a deliberate effort to reach out to the Political wing and hear them out, understand their positions, also them to understand us and I think it has been successful in that we can have  a healthy debate in the Authority and arrive at resolutions that we all support. We want consensus in most of the things we are doing so that we can avoid the fights, bad publicity also fights with the public. If politics is not right, the public might be insighted to sabotage what we are doing.

NE: Late last year, we saw you in a meeting with COSASE Chairman Hon. Mubarak Munyagwa. What were you cooking? 

KITAKA: Actually i was very surprised about how much publicity this meeting got because me as the Acting ED KCCA I made it a deliberate move to talk to all major stakeholders in the City and that is why Kampala is calm.I talk to the Kampala  ministers,  the Lordmayor, the councilors, division mayors and their councilors, I have been talking to many Members of Parliament and Hon. Munyagwa  is an MP of Kawempe South in Kampala. He is the former mayor Kawempe division and now happens to head COSASE where we have appeared several times. It would not be out of the norm for me to have a meeting with a representative of Kampala people in Parliament.

The meeting was in a broad day light,  in a public space where we perfectly knew that everybody will be seing us may be even following our discuions. I find it intriguing for someone to write that it was a secret meeting.  Secret meeting in a public place? Then is that still a secret meeting?
As a major stake holder in the City,  I think it was very innaculate to try connecting my meeting to the staffing issues in KCCA.  It was not correct at all,the meetings with political leaders in the City are aimed at stabilising the institution and to let know what the people they represent want.  Am sure this is very important and all leaders must do this. The calmness you see in the City wouldnt be achieved if I had not taken this path.

NE: You are faced with staffing issues at KCCA, many top officials are resigning an  others are feeling unsafe you want them to re apply.
KITAKA: We have different categories of staff. There are those who came in from public services and those on temporary terms. Most of this came because there was no assurance of the budget. So couldn’t be recruited on permanent  terms and they are a big number. But as you go about regularisation of this situation, there are certain things you can not avoid. The public service which recruits for us has certain guidelines we are all obliged to follow. All the staff on the temporary terms will have to reapply. But I trust that since they have been performing well on their jobs,  they will also perform well at the interviews and will be retained. A lot of them have experience, Tey have been trained, and therefore it will be advantageous to retain such staff. Other than training a new group of people.

NE: Do you have staff under probe? Are there staff investigations in KCCA?
KITAKA: Yes there will be audit of certain Directorates but not auditing individuals. Such audits are normal in public service. They help us to find where the weak areas are so that we can plan and move forward in a more organized way. So when you here about staff being investigated,  it isnt out of the norm.  If something has gone wrong in an institution, there has to be an investigation. 

NE: About transport industry  in the City,  the president  recently directed the ministry of Finance to work on bringing 980 Tondeka buses to replace marathon so as to decongest Kampala. How are you prepared for that development?
KITAKA:  It is evident that we need a higher capacity of means of transport in the City.  The only challenge is, when you bring them on, what do you do with the existing operators. Because transport is a source of income for so many peoplre. And we dont want to make so many people unemployed. It means that, when this new phone system comes, they should be part of it. They should be given jobs there, operate some of the services, so that the new system benefits Ugandans, it does not instead disenfranchise them. So we would support the introduction of buses but need to come with other accompanying measures on the road. Because if you bring so many buses and get stuck in the congestion people will not use them because they always want to use the fastest mean of transport. It means you have to take away the matatus from the city, relocate them to the periphery and then create dedicated bus lanes, create bus stops, create many modes of payments like the travel cards to avoid cash leakages so that there is no cash on board, you need to create  an information system so that you can be on stage and no when the next bus is coming. So that people can plan their travels like in other developed cities.  We could also introduced trains in the City because a population of 4M people in Kampala every day, is not a small figure.  So buses could be completed by trains because if people are assured of the transport system, there is no need to operate a car because it is very expensive.
I for one, if there is a very good transport system, I will be happy to pick a bus or a train when am comming to work.

NE: Since you took over this office, has KCCA lost cases? 
KITAKA: Oh yes! 

NE: How much has the Authority lost in costs?
KITAKA: Since I came in, I found many cases already lost. And what was left was a matter of agreeing on the settlement. So money had to be paid out.
Details of that I do not have them as of now. On my side since I entered this office, no case has been lost.

NE: Finally, would your Mr. Kitaka want the president to appoint the Substantive ED?

KITAKA: Yes I would want the president to appoint me as the substantive Executive Director but I want that appointment to come through showcasing what we are capable of doing so that it can make an informed decision. I dont want it to come through lobbying. Want him to see himself what KCCA has managed to do. I have already told you what we have done in such a shorter period, what we are doing and our plans to make Kampala a Construction capital city.

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