By Oyet Okwera
IT is 3:00pm. I set out to Kyaliwajjala in Kiira town council in Wakiso district. I use the Northern Bypass since it is the easiest route to my destination. Way back, Kyaliwajjala was only known for its proximity to the Catholic and Protestant shrines in Namugongo.
Today, the area is among the fastest developing suburbs of Kampala. Many attribute the areaâ€™s growing housing infrastructure to the presence of the Christian shrines.
Every year during the commemoration of the Uganda Martyrs day on June 3, Kyaliwajjala burgeons with businesses of all sorts. It is always time to make money.
Annet Mukyala, who has spent 30 years in the area, says about 10 years ago, Kyaliwajjala generally comprised bushes and plantations of coffee and food crops for domestic consumption.
â€œFew people lived here. The place was considered a village and was also associated with tse-tse flies,â€ Mukyala recalls.
She says 15 years ago, a 50x100ft piece of land cost about sh3m and many people, who bought land in the area at that time, kept it mainly for cultivation. Today, buying land in Kyaliwajjala is quite expensive. Currently, the same plot of land costs over sh20m. Mukyala says land owners receive potential buyers who try to convince them to sell off their land in vain.
This is evident in the notices in the area reading, â€œEno plot tetundibwa (This plot is not for sale).â€ A shopkeeper on one of the plots with a not-for-sale notice says it was put there to scare away potential buyers that may be interested in the plot. He says the notice has relieved him from buyers interested in the land.
â€œI remember a certain gentleman wanted land but declined to buy it here because of the bushes then. When he came back, he was shocked when the owner of the plot asked him to pay sh15m,â€ says Mukyala.
Mzee Lewontino, who has lived in Kyaliwajjala for a long time, says the scramble for the area started in 2000.
He says when land owners realised that many people were interested in plots in the area, the prices shot up.
Those who had land they were not using erected buildings to guard against the possibility of land grabbing.
Mamerito Mugerwa, the mayor of Kiira Town Council, says apart from underdevelopment, Kyaliwajjala was also a den of criminals and many people were afraid to settle there.
â€œThat time, there was no Police presence in the area. We mainly relied on security services from Jinja Road or the Military Police from Mukono,â€ says Mugerwa.
Today, Kiira town council has a fully fledged security division to counter security threats. The roads that were appalling 10 years ago have been improved and there is clean water flowing in many homes. With the improvement in infrastructure, Mugerwa says businesses in the area have developed.
He says Kyaliwajjala has over 50,000 people and about 30,000 operate businesses daily in the area.
â€œThe road network has also given rise to educational institutions such as Uganda Martyrs Namugongo and Vienna College,â€ says Mamerito.
Apollo Kivumbi, the Kiira town planner, says housing plans from Kyaliwajjala mainly comprise residential buildings and apartments.
â€œDue to the increasing business opportunities in the area, many people have started putting up commercial buildings,â€ says Kivumbi.
He adds that the estimated population of the town council is about 300,000 people and managing them requires proper planning of construction to avoid an upsurge of slums.