Uganda: Physical Planners’ bill lacking
NNN: Members of Parliament are disappointed by the lack of comprehensiveness in the Physical Planners Bill which was tabled in Parliament in 2021.
The bill seeks to professionalize physical planning by establishing a Physical Planners Board that will be in charge of registering physical planners and ensuring discipline among practitioners.
Lawmakers from the Physical Infrastructure Committee said witnesses appearing before the committee said the land minister had failed to involve key stakeholders in drafting the bill.
Parliamentarians made these remarks when meeting with the Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, the Honorable Judith Nabakooba, on Friday 11 February 2022.
The Committee’s Vice-Chairman, the Honorable Robert Kasolo, said that while the bill speaks of offences, it does not prescribe penalties.
“What have you put in place to protect the public from physical planners who have been disqualified from the practice due to their incompetence?” Kasolo asked.
The bill states that “a person who falsely impersonates a physical planner commits an offense and is subject, upon conviction, to a fine not to exceed 48 monetary points or imprisonment not to exceed two years or both.” “.
These MPs said the provision does not sufficiently address the loopholes.
“You find a sub-county chief posing as a physical planner and raising huge sums of money; What has he set in motion for the victims of such an impostor? asked Hon Pascal Mbabazi (NRM, Buwekula County).
Lawmakers were dismayed that while the bill aims to professionalize the sector, it does not cater to architects who have long done physical planning.
“Architects have argued that since time immemorial they have done physical planning and that even at university they study a whole physical planning module. Where are they in this bill? asked Hon Gideon Thembo Mujungu (NRM, Busongora South).
The committee was also concerned that the bill provides for the board of physical planners and their functions, but does not spell out their powers.
MPs also want the bill to harmonize struggles between the Uganda Institute of Physical Planners and the Physical Planners Association, both private entities that have tried to regulate the conduct of physical planners.
Nabakooba said that as much as there are other professionals who support physical planning functions, such as architects and engineers, this legislation focuses only on physical planners.
“As a government, we say that physical planning must be taken seriously. If we don’t streamline physical planning, we will be in a mess and end up with slums,” Nabakooba said.
Nabakooba said other professionals fighting to be included in the bill are already covered by other legislation and should not distract the committee from the purpose of the bill.
“You will remember that there is currently no legal framework that regulates physical planners unlike other professionals such as surveyors and engineers who have their own regulatory framework,” he said.
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