At least 59 illegal buildings under construction have been identified in Kawempe Division, Kampala, barely three weeks after another illegal structure collapsed in Kisenyi, leaving at least six people dead.
The division’s technocrats identified the structures about a month ago and sent the list to Kampala Capital City Authority’s (KCCA) building committee for action.
Sources say the structures belong to prominent businessmen, religious leaders and top government officials who took advantage of the second lockdown to flout critical building guidelines.
Mr Justus Akankwasa, KCCA’s director of engineering and technical services, who is also the secretary of the building committee, yesterday confirmed the existence of the buildings.
“The building committee will sit and approve minutes for issuance of the notices to developers. The 59 is [a] small [figure] considering the size of the city. The list could even shoot to more than 100,” Mr Akankwasa said.He said the committee is yet to receive lists from other divisions.
The building committee report last week showed that at least 37 people have died since 2016 following the collapse of illegal structures.
The report states that the cases have never been thoroughly investigated.
Sources say some of the developers allegedly erect illegal structures and threaten the enforcement officers, a claim we could not independently verify.
Mr Akankwansa attributed the illegal developments to, among others, staffing gaps.
“You find that each division has one physical planner and one building inspector. If the whole city has 99 wards and we have only five building inspectors, it is very hard for us to monitor all the wards on time. The situation was worsened by Covid-19 pandemic because there was a time when we were told to work at only 10 percent and developers used this vacuum to rush and erect illegal structures since inspection was very low,’’ he said.
Daily Monitor investigations show that building inspectors are given an official vehicle once a week, which limits them to a few areas .
One of the developers, who preferred anoymity, accused KCCA of taking long to approve building plans.
“This leaves most developers frustrated yet they acquired loans to enable them construct. That is why one chooses to start construction even before their plan is approved,’’ the developer said.
However, Mr Akankwasa dismissed the claim, saying the plan approval process is smooth. He asked all those with pending construction plans to officially lodge complaints.
Fate of the illegal structures
Asked whether KCCA will demolish the identified illegal structures, Mr Justus Akankwasa said there are certain procedures which the building committee follows before demolition.
“If the structure is proved to be strong, then we can fine the developer and allow them to proceed, but if engineers find it weak, then we will demolish it. But we only approve a structure if at all its design falls under the planning zone of where it is built and also verify whether it complies with the building code,” he said.
Mr Akankwasa didn’t reveal when the notices will be issued to the developers. Investigations by the National Building Review Board on the Kisenyi collapsed building shows that the building committee didn’t enforce a removal notice that the division’s physical planner issued.