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Mr. President, help us put some order in Kampala
Publish Date: May 17, 2009
Newvision Archive
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MR. President, I would like to congratulate you on what I consider one of the many great achievements of your administration — the housing and construction industry.

Before 1986, of the seven hills of Kampala, only Nakasero and Kololo were fully built up. Now nearly every plot within 8km of Kampala has been developed.

Indeed, the construction of the city has extended to a radius of 10km. Unfortunately, this includes slums.
My complaint though is the lack of planning, garbage all over the city and a lack of maintenance of public areas, facilities and buildings.

The city is a messy market place. Merchandise is sold on verandahs and streets and many markets have expanded and taken over Kampala. Taxis are almost the only vehicles on the streets.

Shopping centres are haphazard; green parks are not a consideration, rowdy market vendors are dictating their terms, schools and health centres are not catered for. The city also lacks public toilets.

It is not surprising to see faeces floating in drainage channels. Plastic bags and other litter are everywhere. Indeed, buveeras are killing cows, goats and sheep that graze within the city. Punishment for being in a wrong place at the wrong time!

To crown it all, the green spaces we had are being taken over by “investors”.
There are no roads outside Nakasero and Kololo. Beautiful houses and commercial buildings can only be accessed by “panya roads”.
Even where there are roads, they are impassable due to lack of maintenance and unplanned developments.

Muyenga hill has been described as a rich man’s slum. That description can now be applied to Kibuli, Nsambya, Makindye, Rubaga, Namirembe, Makerere, Mulago, Naguru, Ntinda, Kyambogo and all other areas developed beyond the Nakasero/Kololo circle. Moreover, all these so-called developed areas have not taken public facilities into consideration.

Mr. President, do we have anybody in charge of this city? If there is one, he is either dead, asleep or totally ignorant of his responsibilities. For remedial measures, Mr. President, I would like to suggest that a sizable team of professional town planners be sought and assigned the duty of saving our city.

We might not have them in Uganda, and even if we do, they would be prejudiced. I would, therefore, suggest that we turn to our development partners and request a team of say 50 planners to man the seven sectors of the city and a headquarters’ team to supervise and plan for expansion of the city. We should also set up planning teams for all the towns in the country.

A bus service provider should be procured to get rid of the matatus in the city. These should only provide services to passengers going upcountry. Those entering the city or leaving it should use buses. The market vendors should be told that their interest stops at having space for selling their merchandise in the designated markets.

Investment in the construction of such facilities should be assigned to those who have the capacity to invest and those who know and have all that is required to obtain investment funds, beyond selling. All citizens should be involved in keeping the city clean.

For instance, let us have one day every week, when we all convene in our respective areas to pick up rubbish. And I suggest, Your Excellency should lead the way in that weekly cleaning campaign. This exercise should be carried out throughout the country. Even roads in the villages should be refurbished and kept clean.

Our city and towns were once planned, organised, green, clean and attractive. Is it possible to have them so once again? Yes it is possible. Very possible.

The writer is a former
commissioner of the Uganda Human Rights Commission

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