By Frank Kweronda
Known for its cleanliness and once dubbed "the cleanest town in Uganda in the early 80s and 90s", Mbale, has lost a lot of its past glory.
This situation was aggravated by the fallen standards of urban services, requiring a new approach towards urban planning and management. The former “cleanest town in Uganda” and one of the best planned municipalities in the country, is no more.
As the Vision Group starts on the search for the cleanest town, allow me to also predict which town will emerge the best.
In my view, Cleanest Town Competition will aim at changing attitudes by raising awareness and educating our nation towards environmentally friendly waste management practices, the competition can be used to encourage residents to participate in the moral regeneration of their communities.
Also, consistent improvements in waste management initiatives, at municipalities as well as community level, are acknowledged by the competition, while municipalities/Towns are encouraged to continuously improve their waste management services.
The forging of partnerships between municipalities, community groups and private sector companies to protect our environment is also encouraged, as this could also become a lucrative venture towards sustainable development.
In the past, I have been able to traverse all parts of the country but I must say that I have not come across any clean and organised town like Fort Portal.
There may be no fort, but this is definitely a portal to places that offer sublime scenery, abundant nature and genuine adventures plus total cleanliness in the town centre. Fort Portal is different from all the other towns I have visited in the country just because it maintains total cleanliness in the town.
No one is allowed to litter the municipality/town anyhow, there are sights of well maintained flowers by the streets, the green parks, no open sewerage and generally sanitation is good.
The town of Fort Portal is lush and liveable, and one of the nicer urban centres in Uganda. Located in Western Uganda, it is the seat of both Kabarole District and Toro Kingdom. Fort Portal is located approximately 320 kilometers by road, west of Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city, on an all-tarmac two-lane highway.
Fort Portal is named for Sir Gerald Portal, a British Special Commissioner for Uganda, whose statue graces the main road of the town.
Situated between the Rwenzori Mountains, Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park, it is an important market town. Several crater lakes and the Semliki Valley also lie near the town. Fort Portal is one of the few towns in Uganda that can boast about its prime location without dispute.
It is accessible by both road and air. The town sits on the beautiful backdrop of the famous Rwenzori Mountains commonly referred to as the Mountains of the Moon which provides an opportunity for the dare devils to hike the dizzying 5,109m peak.
Fort Portal is also home to Uganda's tea plantations which are scenic as well as provide the guests with an opportunity to interact with the locals while tea picking.
In Fort portal town, no person or Boda Boda rider will allow you litter the place anyhow. They have learned good tactics of environmental policing and self discipline hence the glory of the town.
We need to take up the challenge of taking responsibility for our individual and collective actions as we become aware of our environmental footprints. Personally I would like to continue to encourage citizens and to participate pro-actively in the environmental regeneration of our communities and to take personal responsibility for ensuring that the services provided by municipalities/towns and Urban Councils are effective and meet the needs of communities.
If everyone takes personal responsibility, we shall improve on the hygiene and the cleanliness of the areas in which we live.
Municipalities and Town Councils must not neglect their constitutional obligations to provide these services equitably and in a manner that ensures clean, safe and healthy environments for all its citizens. It also is each and every citizen's responsibility to ensure that the environment is not polluted.
"A clean and healthy environment is inextricably linked to the socio-economic improvement of all people,"
The writer is a civil engineer
Vision Group launches cleanest town project