Assessment of work by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) in its third year of operation shows at first glance semblance of better face than before, but it has some ugly trend—if not checked: the nation’s capital is being divided deliberately or not, into a slowly but surely social-class divided city which I’ll call: “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”. From my vantage point, I can see that rehabilitation of the city infrastructure and re-organization of its administration; have been undertaken along politically-driven and social class- orchestrated lines that do not spell a healthy future for all.
When one stands around the City Square—if this serves as a central point-one would use to see well—infrastructure repairs from Kololo, westwards through Nakasero hill, have been rapid and prioritized.
So far, the until-recently potholed Nakasero, Lumumba and Buganda Roads running north to south or vice-versa, have been given first-class attention repairs. The longest road, Yusuf Lule (formerly Kitante Road), which almost geographically divides Kololo from Nakasero hills, is in fairly good condition thanks to quality work done many years ago, under the World Bank and European Union (EU)-funded Kampala City road rehabilitation projects. The inner roads i.e. Kimathi Avenue, Kyaggwe, Bombo and Kampala Road, are slightly in good condition – though need a coat or two of tarmac and will be fully restored to a better class. But in their current state, are still motorable, with a few if not warps, at all. Kiira and Jinja Roads that run east to west [or vice-versa] almost parallel to each other, connected by among others, Yusuf Lule and Lugogo By- pass, are also not in bad state.
These roads cover Kololo and Nakasero Hills, where small and shorter lanes have all been repaired after they were found in motorable states two to three years ago. This places these two hills in the ‘A’ Class of high-political and social class attention. Yes, the reasons will be given that they’ve been prioritized because it is where majority of key institutions/installations i.e., State House, Parliament and several Ministries [including Central Bank and KCCA] and Diplomatic missions are located.
But it is also where neglect leading to infrastructure deterioration or striking deals for shoddy works, are borne. These roads and drainages slowly slid into bad state, while decision-makers sat, sipped coffee and wine, as they looked on from Nakasero and Kololo Hills. Today the very concerned people/offices under whose watch things went wrong, are turning around to promise a first-class Kampala as if, while they were on a visit abroad or had gone off to long vacations, is when things went wrong!
The very leaders there, except Jeniffer Musisi, have been around and in policy-decision- making positions. The ex-Mayors John Sebaana Kizito, Nasser Ntege Sebagala and before them Christopher Yiga, had no adequate muscle to restore a Kampala city that had been pillaged by wars (1979, 1981-86) and maladministration. It required direct State intervention like it is getting under KCCA, today. Though, ofcourse poor planning utter thefts and political factionalization characterized the ex-mayors’ administrations.This class “A” has had street-hawking, and traffic (taxis) quickly regulated, to create order. Next, its boda-boda cyclists to be streamlined or totally kept out.
Again, the argument will be we are cleaning the ‘most sensitive’ and ‘upmarket’ area, as a priority. But in any cleaning operation, there’s production of residues or trash. Now, where does KCCA throw away trash or filth it generates from cleaning Class “A”?
Some of the products regarded as trash are street-vendors, lumpens, unemployed youth, homeless/beggars, pickpockets, street-kids, hardcore thugs, who because “Class “A” has been cleared of hiding places like street-kiosks, overgrown gardens and unattended-to alleys, accompanied by police and KCCA operations, have had to run away to class “B”, “C” and “D”. Yes, when Class “A” trash is disposed off, then its Class “B” or downtown (Class “C & D”—further below Ben Kiwanuka or west of it) are at the receiving end. Now, the new Class “B” created in Kampala, is the area Kampala and Bombo roads cuts as the dividing line—running from north to south. Anything below Kampala-Bombo Road and above Ben Kiwanuka Street, comprises the Class “B”.
It is west of Nakasero Hill and east of Old Kampala Hill (the area between Kampala- Bombo Road and Ben Kiwanuka Street, in which we find – among others – the crime- laden Arua Park. Meanwhile, “Class-C” area comprises for example, the sprawling chunk of land between Wandegeya-Nakulabye Road [in north] and the Shoprite-Nakivubo Channel stretch [in the south]. Key landmarks in this “C” area are the ‘Baganda’ Bus Park, Kikuubo, Old and New Taxi Parks, Owino Market, Nakivubo area and the stadium, Kisekka Market, Kisenyi and Makerere-Kivulu (‘MAKIVU’) slums and the main shopping malls downtown Kampala. This is where people and businesses who operate there are regarded lower class. It is as if they should be treated so, because they are responsible for the bad state of Kampala! Are they? A big No! The creation of Usafi Market is one of the ways in which classification is being implemented. This is not stated nor written down as an official policy. But it is being practiced, and I repeat: either deliberately or unknowingly! If not deliberately or unknowingly, why shouldn’t learned people at City Hall, and in other spheres of influence, be unable to know that actions as theirs, can result into such undesired classification of a nation’s capital? Why shouldn’t plans and programmes be informed by researched studies, or benchmarked cases, but instead follow blind actions? Why not prepare a fall-back plan should these actions backfire, perhaps by a revolt of the “B,”C” and “D” classed-people or by sheer refusal to abide by the law.
To back my argument, I have some examples. If there’s equal treatment of Kampalans, how come Kafumbe-Mukasa Road in Kisenyi (Class ‘C’) took that long to repair, or decongestion of the “B, C or D”-areas is not being done as has “A” area?
In addition, how many times has Park Yard (in area “C”) burnt without a convincing report or explanation on the causes coming out? How long have the two taxi parks been in filthy state, without quick attention? Reform plans have been announced three years after KCCA birth?
Incidentally, the “B, C & D” are high-revenue areas. For instance, what Owino Market generates a month to the KCCA coffers is more than what a hundred shops along Kampala Road generate. Or you may even find that URA & KCCA collect more from the ‘uncared-for’ or ‘lower-class’ Kikuubo business hub than from a huge ‘upmarket and ‘well-attended to’ Garden City! Reason? Because owners of such high- class businesses like Garden City and other similar places in “A” class, are either policy and top decision-makers themselves, who dodge paying taxes or connive with well- connected friends in URA/KCCA to look the other way, or under-tax them.
This classification or committing of actions with detrimental effects, have not been without castigation. A number of writers in media columns, commentators on TV and radio and even critics at KCCA plans/actions, have voiced concern. But “ignore them” has been the silent action by KCCA and Government!
A lone voice from an “A”-located office – State House – that is of the Presidential Press Secretary, Mr. Tamale Mirundi, has variously warned especially against the abrupt and unplanned disbandment of taxi organizations, and enmasse removal of street-vendors by KCCA without plans of how to resettle them. He has warned of undesired political ramifications from KCCA’s unguided actions. But his advice has hit deaf ears. Instead Tamale Mirundi’s boss, President Museveni has variously praised Musisi or KCCA for that matter (but for her actions that have stifled Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago’s political administration).
Already Tamale and ther critics’ warnings are being proved right. There’s an upsurge in crimes like metal bar-wielding thugs and the kidnap, rape and killing of young women and men, in the city suburbs – to as far as Nsangi, Buddo and Kiira sub-counties in Wakiso and Mpigi districts. These are some of the undesired effects, and point a finger at the ugly unplanned and ‘classification’ of the nation’s capital. These “bad” and lower class people will always be an inconvenience to the “good” and “high-class” people. They’ll always leave their filthy areas, sneak and rob from the wealthy areas and sustainably Cause trouble for the favoured Class “A”. And interestingly, the wealthy will find themselves going to the “(C & D filthy-areas) areas i.e. by taking their cars to where you find garages and car-parts’ shops. That’s when the hungry, unemployed and angry classes will grab the opportunity to ‘revenge’ by pick-pocketing, stealing car parts and even car-jacking from the Class “A” citizens. Since its in “C” and “D” areas where cheap labor such as car-washers, baby-sitters, cooks, gardeners, builders and nannies, fresh- fruit and vegetable markets are found and the wealthy need them—and need them badly. So they’ll always go there but at a very high risk and cost.
This shows you that people, inspite of the KCCA-led classification, need one another no matter the income differences. So let’s build a city that all the people in it, shall be proud of—where equality and equity are principles practiced and felt by all. The nation’s capital should not be for only a few!
For God and My Country.
The author prefers to remain anonymous.