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We fixed our road via WhatsApp

By Admin

Added 3rd August 2018 07:15 PM

Around this time the Mobile Money Tax came into effect, meaning I had to lose at least 1% of the total collections, but still that was fine.

We fixed our road via WhatsApp

Around this time the Mobile Money Tax came into effect, meaning I had to lose at least 1% of the total collections, but still that was fine.


By Deo Tumusiime

KAMPALA - A section of our road in Bubuli village had become grossly impassable. It had two long and deep pothole stretches right in the middle, besides being narrow.

Every vehicle that used this road must have been hurt at one point or the other. For over three years, we were kind of used to our bad road waiting for lady luck to fix it someday.

Now, when Arua Municipality MP Col. Ibrahim Abiriga was killed, one of the issues the President emphasised was the need to fix local connecting roads in our communities to ease movement in case of an attack.

And he was very right-only that sometimes our leaders listen to the President's words of wisdom, but never take the challenge seriously.

Yet Bubuli is not a certain village deep in some countryside, but is located right in the heart of Entebbe within Katabi Town Council, comprising many decent homes; but the poor state of roads makes the place akin to any remote village you could imagine.

I woke up one morning with an idea. Our road had to be fixed somehow, and I said to myself that this idea was unstoppable.

I happen to co-ordinate a WhatsApp group comprised of at least 30 members in our village. I briefed them on the status of our road, which everyone definitely was already aware of.

I called upon members to contribute some money each according to their capacity, so we could purchase some murrum and fix at least the very bad stretch.

Within a period of three days, I had received overwhelming response as members made contributions via Mobile Money to my phone.

Around this time the Mobile Money Tax came into effect, meaning I had to lose at least 1% of the total collections, but still that was fine.

Once I had the money in my five, I was ready to co-ordinate the road repair works. However, I faced a glitch.

Some members were of the view that it was against the law to fix a community road without the blessing of the Town Council! Well, I still picked the phone and called the Mayor, called the Town Clerk and called the Engineer.

They were all incidentally aware of the road section I was talking about. The Town Clerk told me how they had no money around this time of the year and that roads are fixed based on a strategic plan; the Engineer said they had no grader and the one they expected from the ministry was faulty.

I told them ours was an emergency that needed swift response and it couldn't wait. These predictable excuses were definitely taking us nowhere.

I told them that I had collected some money for murrum from my colleagues and we needed permission to fix some really bad potholes on our road. Lukewarm, noncommittal response is all I got.

One morning I woke up with so much rage on my mind. I was stuck with people's money, yet they continued to ride over the potholes they had paid to fix. Holding us was Council approval! I loaded enough airtime and called the Town Clerk one more time.

I begged him to allow me speak in Luganda, his local language. This way I thought my concern would sink in best. By the time I got off the phone, I had secured the green light.

I called the truck to deliver murrum, called a compactor and hired two guys to help. We worked all day as I turned myself into a makeshift roads engineer of sorts.

The potholes were so deep and we realised the little murrum we had purchased was all going to be swallowed up.

One guy directed me to a place where a house had just been razed. We walked there and collected rubble and a neighbour offered half bricks from his site which we also picked up.

We used this as base filler, then topped with murrum. By end of the day, vehicles were driving on the road smoothly like never before.

Sadly due to lack of drainage channels and being on a slope, so much running water from the rain started washing away the murrum within just two days.

Drainage was now essential but needed a grader to do it. I called the Town Clerk again for help, but he told me I needed to mobilise some fuel so he could find a grader.

This was getting trickier as I could not go back to the community to collect more money. My head started boiling almost to burst.

I searched for the phone number of the Minister for Works, General Katumba Wamala.

I sent him a WhatsApp message deep in the night about my predicament. I knew him as a decent man and believed he would be of help.

Message delivered, but no reply. I panicked while pondering how he had received it.

Next morning I gathered courage and for the first time in life, I called an Army General.

I reminded him about my message. He told me that he had instructed the Town Clerk to fix our road within two days, and I should call him back in case this wasn't done. I danced as I broke the news to my colleagues.

Within two days indeed, a grader was sent and the drainage was done-haphazardly, but done.

I know they could have fixed and compressed more murrum (which is freely available) for a better job, but half a loaf than no bread at all.  Ugandans truly deserve to live in a better environment.

The writer is a communications consultant.

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