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According to the Population Reference Bureau, by 2050, Uganda’s population is likely to have grown by 310% compared to today. The current estimated figure of 28.5 million Ugandans will have increased to 117 (one hundred and seventeen).

What does this mean for Kampala? Today, only 12% of Ugandans live in cities, an estimated 1.5 million in Kampala. With urbanization in progress, this will indisputably grow massively. To what extent will remain to be seen, but it is not absurd to assume that Kampala could become just another Mega City like Cairo, Lagos or Mexico City.

In order to accommodate this growth, one of the issues to be addressed in the near future is public transport. The highly inefficient Matatu system has to be replaced by public buses running on defined routes and schedules. Fortunately, this seems to be under way with KCC claiming to bring 200 buses into the country ‘soon’.

Public transport schematic

Currently, every single Matatu moves in and out of town stopping anywhere (!) a passenger wants to get on or off. Even more ridiculous: they all have the same final destination (Old or New Taxi Park)!

An organised bus system would run in a ‘star-shaped’ way, with lines crossing town along the major corridors and meeting in a central terminal. There would be a series of satellite terminals on the outskirts (fed by the Matatus, UTODA!).

The centrepiece of this proposed development would be the construction of the Central Kampala Public Transport Terminal – a design of which I’m proposing below. I don’t do that because somebody asked me to or because I have nothing else to do but because it was my masters thesis (2004) which I’m simply uploading. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the drawings.

In which direction Kampala is likely to grow

Central Kampala urban development scheme

The zone south of Nakivubo Channel is the natural (and pretty much only) direction of growth for Kampala’s Central Business District (CBD). There is potential for a large public park in the bottom of the valley, south of which there is scope to easily double Kampala’s commercial area. If Nsambya Police Barracks is also to be developed (as some gossip knows), we are even talking of tripling it.

Proposed Location


The proposed Public Transport Terminal is strategically located at the southern tip of the existing CBD (opp Shoprite, along Queens Way). The basic idea behind the location (let’s ignore land titles and stuff for now): The more the city grows southward, the more central it gets.

‘Layered’ Structure


A typical feature of African cities is the total mix of functions within the public space, most notably of traffic and trade. In Kampala this can best be seen in the two Taxi Parks. I’m not saying they work particularly well, but they certainly are fascinating to look at and, more importantly, form the basis for commercial activity for a lot of people. No other place in the city can be expected to attract more people than a public transport terminal (where people change lines and get in and out of the city on a daily basis) – i.e. no other place offers better commercial opportunities.

Section through courtyard

So how can this both beneficial and attractive mix of functions be transformed into something that actually works? This design suggests to mix traffic and trade ‘vertically’ as opposed to today’s situation which keeps all functions on one level. A nicely shaded lower level offers space for a market-like shopping environment. Upstairs, buses come and go in an unobstructed and naturally ventilated environment. Large shaded courtyards – illuminated by reflected sunlight – connect the two levels vertically.

And how would it look like?
A bit like this, only slightly less grey and a lot more crowded:

Perspective lower levelPerspective upper level

Anything else?
Yes, a lot more ideas went into this concept. But let me keep them for some later posts. Meanwhile, tell me yours…

Small Print
The above concept including all images is the intellectual property of the author. Whether you are an uninspired Architect, a ‘city tycoon’ on a spending spree, a disgruntled UTODA official, Nasser Ntege Sebagala vying for re-election or anyone else: If you intend to use any or all of the above please first ask me for permission. Thank you.


    • Cindy
    • Posted Wednesday, 28th November, 2007 at 12:03
    • Permalink

    Hey buddy, i have really fallen for the very brilliant observations made on how really Kampala looks like now and how it should look like. Without looking at the aerial view of Kampala an amateur like me can easily think Kampala is organised. The photographs are really leading and well explained. Thank you for the commendable job.

  1. Great Idea. the more these ideas r published, the more the public will push for change, coz at the moment, theres an urge for change thats not strong enough to move the guys benefitting from the disorder (UTODA, KCC).

    I would be careful though in endorsing the need for a major public transport terminal in ‘downtown’ Kampala as this could be interpreted to be a redevelopment of the existing terminal(s).
    As you rightly observed, the travel patterns for public transport are inefficient, therefore it would be good if you defined what capacity this would handle or the typical travel routes from this station. I would expect that it shd handle only certain long distance travel and some local travel, but not ALL Kampala journeys & conuntry journeys as is the case now.

    • filoug
    • Posted Friday, 14th December, 2007 at 9:24
    • Permalink

    @ Ronnie:

    I would be careful though in endorsing the need for a major public transport terminal in ‘downtown’ Kampala as this could be interpreted to be a redevelopment of the existing terminal(s).

    Which ‘existing terminal(s)’ are you referring to? Old and New Taxi Park? – In that case, this is a redevelopment and should be interpreted as such. Actually, it would replace them and some exiting stuff could happen there instead.

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