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Potholes in Mbale, Kampala smiling again

By Vision Reporter

Added 27th September 2013 03:19 PM

In the Make Uganda Clean campaign, we bring you profiles of Mbale Municipality and Kampala Central Division today.

In the Make Uganda Clean campaign, we bring you profiles of Mbale Municipality and Kampala Central Division today.

By Stephen Ssenkaaba and Moses Nampala

trueIn the Make Uganda Clean campaign, Vision Group will be profiling major urban centres in the country highlighting their sanitation situation, culminating into a gala night on November 25, where the cleanest towns will be recognised. Today we bring you profiles of Mbale Municipality and Kampala Central Division.

MBALE MUNICIPALITY By Stephen Ssenkaaba & Moses Nampala

It was a favourite Social Studies (SST) question in the 80s and 90s: “Name the cleanest town in Uganda.” Most of us knew the answer as Mbale. Many primary school children today would hardly recognise Mbale as one of the clean towns in eastern Uganda.

Over the years, Mbale has gradually gone down the drain; and sank deep into the sewers. Mbale is swimming in its own sewage as the residents are looking on and the leaders are even more helpless.

According to a recent Vision Group survey, Mbale is littered with rubbish.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents in this survey claim that the dustbins are not only insufficient, but also dirty, leading to a 2.4/10 and 2.2/10 score respectively.

Information from the municipal planning office indicates that garbage is collected once or twice a day and deposited at a council-controlled garbage fill 500m from the town centre. There are also four markets, each with a garbage skip owned by the town council.

For a town of 94,400 people (according to the 2012 Uganda Bureau of Statistics abstract), this means one dustbin for every 23,600 people. Sixty-two percent said it was not easy to locate dustbins in town.

People walk past garbage dumped along Kumi Road in Mbale town. PHOTO/by Moses Nampala

A mind-boggling 81% of our respondents said, they have seen someone litter rubbish in the town in the past three months.

Of all respondents, only 28% claimed to have avoided littering; a mere 7% said they have taken part in cleaning the town, and 49% said Urban centres in Uganda City – 1 Municipalities - 22 Town councils - 174 Town boards - 193 Numerous un-recognised growth/trading centres Municipality/Town City Water body Kampala Key Kampala and Mbale Mbale Kampala Central they did nothing to improve the cleanliness.

Broken sewers are prevalent in Mbale town. Indeed, 71% of respondents claim to have seen sewage bursts in the town. In many cases, such sewers were not fixed the town 3.1/10 score.

Fourty-eight percent of the respondents claimed to have ever seen open soak pits/ manholes in the town and of these, one third (33%) reported that the manholes had been open for at least three months. Robert Wambedde, the Industrial division town clerk, says some blocked sewers in the town are a result of encroachment on the main sewerage lines.

The municipal engineering and physical planning department had long allocated reserved land where the main sewerage lines pass. Over time, the increased population of residents in town has increased the volume of sewerage which has blocked the main sewerage pipeline.

Toilet facilities are greatly lacking in this town. According to the municipal planning authority, there are four public toilets controlled by the council, far inadequate for the over 90,000 residents. While 83% of respondents claimed to be aware of some sort of toilet in the town, these toilets were found to be dirty. Access to public toilets costs an average of sh190 per visit.

For many that cannot find this money, the bush becomes an alternative. Wambedde explains: “You cannot imagine a town with so many people having inadequate latrine.” He accuses the municipal authority engineering and physicaplanning unit for the mess.

“The technical offices have allocated all the land including where the public latrine formerly existed to private developers,” he says.

He explained that private developers not only pulled down the latrines that previously existed, but have not provided any alternative. He warns of looming dire consequences. “Disease outbreak awaits this town because the community has resorted to easing themselves in plastic paper bags that they litter on the mounds of garbage and alleys of the streets.”

Sewage oozes from blocked pipe. PHOTO/Moses Nampala

Besides the plan to identify areas around the town where latrines could be put up, private developers have been asked to include a public latrine,”Kutosi said.

In the meantime, he added, we are waiting for the IGG to resolve the problem of issuing reserve land for sewerage lines to private developers.

The municipal health officer declined to comment on the matter. However, James Kutosi, the municipal public relations officer admits the irregularity. “We regret the confusion made by our staff, and we have since put our house in order,” he said.

Kutosi says this financial year, council has committed sh662m to cater for healthrelated projects, which include construction of public latrines and procurement of dustbins.

According the municipal planning office, 98% of the population in Mbale town has access to piped water and 85% of the population is connected to a central sewer system. Human waste is managed through the septic tank and the sewerage system.

The town has one planner, one health inspector, one engineer, a lands officer, an education officer and an environmental officer. Wambedde said garbage collection in the town has been privatised.

“In August we signed a memorandum of understanding with BC Cleaning Services Uganda Ltd. Under this arrangement, the contractors collect the garbage door -to-door from homes and shops. Every household is expected to pay sh10,000 per month.

The contractors sound a siren to signal the arrival of garbage collection truck. Zanubia Namutamba, the deputy mayor said: “We have decentralised garbage collection to LC level. The LCI chairpersons have been assigned to supervise cleaning exercises in their areas.”

“Once our programme to sell manure to the farmers gains ground, we shall commission a new market built with US grants of $11m (sh28b) from the African Development Bank.



Teach residents on how to sort the garbage and prepare it for recycling. The municipality intend to improve the roads under
the Uganda support to municipal Infrastructure development project. Places in the town for the construction of public
toilets has been identified. This has been budgeted for and will soon take off.

Good practices

Contractors collect garbge door-to-door at a monthly fee of sh10,000. LC chairpersons are to supervise cleaning
exercises in their areas. There are people who sweep and slash areas in the municipality. Garbage is recycled
and manure made at the compost site

Mayor's view

The Mbale mayor, Mutwalibi Mafabi admitted that the town lacks latrines. He attributes these problems to his predecessors


KAMPALA CENTRAL DIVISION By Stephen Ssenkaba & Andrew Masinde

Kampala Road is well-maintaned with grass watered often and flowers neatly trimmed. PHOTO/Andrew Masinde

Kampala Central Division, the home of Uganda’s capital is slowly rising up from its doldrums. Over the last couple of years, Kampala Council Authority (KCCA) has been fighting to resuscitate the ailing city.

The once flowing garbage is slowly being swept off the streets, the New Taxi Park that once looked like a pigsty is under renovation, the hawkers that were a menace on the streets are no more and green spaces are being restored as Executive Director Jennifer Musisi seeks to beautify the city.

Plans are under way to regulate the operations of boda boda cyclists.

No wonder 87% respondents of a Vision Group survey of city dwellers said they have seen dustbins around the city. Even though some thought these bins were averagely sufficient in number, many were dirty.

The dustbins were mostly seen on the streets/roads (68%) and to a less extent market areas (4%). Nevertheless, challenges remain. Dust and poor drainage systems are still big problems and more should be done to improve congestion.

The Central division is perhaps the busiest of all the five divisions that make up the capital city. It is the central business district of Kampala comprising of thriving architecture, green spaces, markets and small-scale industries.

It is the home of the presidential abode (the State House), parliamentary premises, diplomatic missions and several government offices.

All the three markets in the division have garbage skips managed through a tendering process. Despite these efforts, sewage management remains a major cancer in this city. The survey reveals that nearly half of the respondents (49%) had ever seen sewage bursts in Central division.

While these report fairly quick attempts by city authorities to fix these sewers, a number of them still remain unattended. Indeed, 72% of our respondents report having seen open soak pits/manholes that have taken as more as three months without being fixed.

Though there is no shortage of public toilets, the places of convenience are only averagely clean. Eleven percent of the respondents have seen people use bushes and street alleys to ease themselves.

There are even cases of livestock and poultry moving about in the city as 47% of the respondents revealed. These, however, were not regular.

Overgrown grass and bush appears in a few places, but is not prevalent as only 13% of respondents claim to have found a place with overgrown grass. Maintenance of gardens and grass remains commendable.

Garbage is still a big challenge in slums though. PHOTO/Andrew Masinde

Information from the division reveals that 95% of Kampala central residents have access to piped water, which is the main source of water in the division.

Septic tanks, pit latrines and the central sewer system are the main channels of managing human waste in the division and while there is a paved drainage system, it is in a poor condition. About 50% of the town population is connected to the central sewer system

There is a garbage fill, which is managed by KCCA. Garbage is either recycled or burnt. The division has four planners, two health inspectors, four engineers, two lands officers, two education officers and two environmental officers.

It takes a much bigger workforce to sufficiently serve 1, 723,300 dwellers (as per the 2012 Uganda Bureau of Statistics abstract).

The Central division has been a victim of environmental degradation and wetland encroachment. As far as the budget allocation is concerned, the KCCA spokesperson, Peter Kaujju, says the Central division shares the sh199b budget with all the five divisons in the city. Out of this, sh130.9b comes from projected revenue and sh68.1b from other sources.

Kampala Central division has 14 primary and six secondary schools. While the private sector runs 36 primary and 14 secondary schools.

The key economic activities include small and medium sized enterprises and wholesalers who support the regional export market. It also has food markets, car sales and general merchandise.

Manufacturing industry, for various products such as paints, food processing, steel products, metal fabrication and others. Notable businesses include, financial institutions, telecommunications and hotels. The division has a small revenue base and a poor tax compliance culture.

Political interference, traffic jams and an inadequate budget are some of the constraints the division faces

Winning formula

  • There are garbage bins in all the streets.
  • There are casual workers who sweep the division every day.
  • In the slums, the division put in place trucks that collect garbage daily and this has greatly reduced garbage and drainage clogging in the slums.
  • The division has water bowsers and also employs causal labourers to water the grass and flowers.


  • Kaujju said the division is planning to embark on the construction of Kafumbe Mukasa Road once the budget is approved.
  • The division is also working on a sewerage line. There are also plans to improve the old taxi park as soon as the funds are obtained.

Mayor's view

The mayor, Godfrey Nyakana said efforts have been made to mitigate the environmental degradation by planting of grass and flowers in different places within the city.

Ghostly Mbale swims in potholes

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