By Simon J. Mone
In a society where families prefer to do shopping from supermarkets and malls, customers expect to find all needed goods and services within one place.
Should they go to an Acacia Mall, Garden City or Freedom City, customers must be able to walk into a boutique, a theatre, an amusement park, a night club, the bank, a clinic, a restaurant, and happily return home with a checked shopping list. Driving from one supermarket to another to complete this list has always been a hassle. It is thus important to encourage the development of malls such as Acacia. Once in there, you want to send the children to the amusement centre while you see an optician or trim the hair.
It makes every aspect of the weekend easy and enjoyable. Doing this ensures that customers buy every item from the same premises. At present, one enters the city with the aim of buying items but they have to wander from shop to shop. The current practice, where all kinds of traffic intermingle on the same carriageway, does not allow easy movement while shopping. Given that many shopping centres do not have ample parking space, motorists are forced to park along main road sections.
This hinders effective road usage and causes congestion. Business owners often utilise portions of road lanes for staff car parking. It also contributes to rendering sections of road lanes unusable because vehicles queue up the entire lane. In the process it becomes difficult to complete shopping and reserve time for other things on one’s “to do” list.
The developments of malls will ensure that customers get all goods and services in one place in the city and would lessen the bustle on city streets. Customers would not spend long time shopping. They would be able to access the bank, forex bureau, leisure and entertainment all under one roof.
Shopping malls, because of having ample parking lots would keep a significant proportion of motorists off the streets, which rids the city of the problem of traffic congestion. Buyers would not have to wander from one shopping centre to another. They would keep off the roads, hence keeping city streets clear. Modern shopping malls give the city magnificent scenery with state-of-the art architecture.
They add to the modernisation of retailing where a large number of retailers aggregate in one area. Leisure, entertainment and services are also available within the same place. The result is a wider selection of merchandise and services from within same premises and increased satisfaction of customers.
There is also convenience in terms of a pleasant, safe, secure and comfortable shopping environment. Many young people will also find employment as a result of malls development. Malls are designed according to recognised best urban design practices to ensure good quality living environments.
They improve quality of shopping and expand shopping options for consumers, taking care of both low and high income earners. Environmental improvements will be realised as there will be better waste handling within malls. There will be reduced air emissions from declining traffic due to one-stop shopping.
In the meantime, the absence of one-stop centres, should force us to think about creating public parking lots. If public parking was provided, current traffic volume would be taken care of efficiently. Car parking on main roads should be limited and made prohibitive. It ensures effective use of road ways. Roads will be clear most of the time.
The writer is a civil engineer
The role of shopping malls in decongesting Kampala