Jinja City: According to the third schedule of the Local Government Act, a city council meets, for the discharge of its functions, at least once in two months.
Living in a town with garbage littered streets, darkness due to lack of street lights, blocked drainage and sewerage systems, limited access to health care and unsafe street corridors, ebikuubo, a section of the newly created Jinja City residents are arguing that such an intermittent way of council meeting and operation has a direct correlation with the bad service delivery happening in the City.
“The laws are made to serve and protect people. If the law is not working well to increase on service delivery, it is the work of the councilors to start a process and get that law amended,
“But these men and women will not do that because they have no time for the sittings and if you notice it well, even those two sittings rarely make full quorum,” said Mr Geoffrey Mwandu, of Budondo, Jinja City Northern Division.
Ms Joan Namusoke, a mobile money attendant and a resident of Namulesa says those in leadership do not mind about the communities otherwise, they would be meeting often to consider the issues concerning the plight of those the council is meant to serve.
“In Namulesa we usually get load shedding which lasts even a week but there no councilor who has ever talked about that may be because council rarely sits. This implies that we need several sittings so that the challenges in the communities can be solved immediately,” she said.
Jinja City Mayor, Peter Kasolo, says his office is open throughout the week and that means Council is serving the people.
“My executive and I are permanent workers. Not only the political wing I lead but also the technical part which is led by the City Clerk works tirelessly so that there is continuous service delivery to the public so the sitting times is not a challenge to the service delivery.
“The two sitting program is not hindering any kind of service delivery because if extra sittings are needed, let’s say there is an emergency, the law gives the Speaker the powers to call for a special committee of council sitting basing on what issues are to be discussed,” the Mayor said.
According to article 29 of the Local Government Act, Councilors are part time workers. It is only the Mayor who’s is full time. This means that they may only find them for community issues in their spare time.
To underscore the their resolve at service delivery, Council Speaker, Mr Bernard Mbayo said Councilors get time to serve their constituents during committee work where they do more as compared to sitting in council.
“The sitting procedure cannot be the reason behind poor service delivery to the public. The city council has to have 12 sittings 6 for the general council and 6 for the committee.
“This implies that in every two months there should be two sittings one for the committee and other one for the general council because every councilor has his or her committee where they serve from and it’s from these committees that the council gets reports on what to implement,” he said.
Some of the committees include the service committee, the finance and administration committee among others.
Be it as it may, city dwellers believe that with a part time leadership and part time meetings, nothing much can be expected in terms of service delivery.
“Councilors are just there earning allowances but they have paid a deaf ear to our challenges in the community, now if they only sit twice in two months do they have enough time to discuss about the pressing issues in the community?
“This City Council and its technical wing; they abandoned the common man. Instead they are working on for their selfish gains. They have even failed to come on ground to ask people in the community on the challenges they are facing,” said Kafero Muhammad as boda boda rider in the city.
Hon Kameze Ivan, Councilor for Namulesa, however, says it is what it is.
“If the law gives only two sittings we have to go with what the law says. Another thing is that the City Council cannot facilitate these multiple sittings.
“The councilors are not paid salary instead we just get sitting allowances and even these allowances are not enough because we just get 20 per cent from the taxes collected by the City Council,” he said.
He added, “There are even councilors who were in the regime when Jinja was still a municipality and are still demanding there sitting allowances this gives you a clear view that our city cannot be able to facilitate many sittings as far as service delivery is concerned, we try our best as councilors to do what we can through the use of our committee sittings and the general council sitting.”