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Monthly Archives: December 2007

Wakiso district never bothered to hire any experts to design its fast growing Lubowa neighbourhood. So nobody designed it at all. And everybody does the same: building boundary walls all over the place.

So is that the reason why Lubowa will be taken out of Wakiso and become part of Kampala? Of course not, since KCC is not an inch better than their incompetent counterparts to the South. Instead, it is part of the government’s proposed Master plan for Kampala which – according to the New Vision – states that

…these areas are very close to city and should be allowed to develop into slums.

Now that sounds like a plan (or New Vision poetry).

Traffic-wise, Kampala’s Southern and South-Eastern areas are strategically discriminated against.

If you want to get from say Bugolobi to Mulago, you can bypass the Kampala Road mess by means of a comfortable dual carriageway: Yusuf Lule Road. On a larger scale, if your destination is Bukoto, you use Lugogo Bypass. And to reach Ntinda, Northern Bypass has recently been opened. Three pretty efficient roads, concentrically arranged, relieving the city centre of unnecessary through traffic.

That is if you live in Bugolobi.

South of the railways, life is quite different. Try to get from Najjanankumbi to Makerere; from Kansanga to Wandegeya; or from Makindye to Nakasero. There is no way you can avoid the city centre. You will either use Queens Way and turn onto Kampala Road, or you’ll squeeze through Ben Kiwanuka Street. Both of which you’d rather avoid.

What is missing is a ‘mirrored Yusuf Lule’ (and subsequently, a mirrored Lugogo and Northern Bypass – we’ll get to those in later posts).

Lucky enough, the corridor for this missing link already exists: The beautiful Nakivubo Channel! The idea to effectively hide this open drain and develop it into something else is not new and makes perfect sense. Of course not, as some Town Hall nutcase previously suggested, by giving it to private investors to cover it with some more of those arcades that already litter Luwum Street. Instead, it should be turned into a dual carriageway and commercial development should take place next to it.

Introducing Canal Street:

Main roads of central Kampala

one of your senior officials recently gave a brilliant interview to tumwijuke which reads in parts like this:

tumwijuke: Since you say KCC has absolutely no plans in regards to libraries, theatres, sports and culture, perhaps it’s too much for me to ask about public art?

Your official: Pabuliki arti? What is she pabuliki arti?

tumwijuke: You know, art of any kind … that is specifically planned to be staged in public and is accessible to all.

Your official: Ho oh! Ayi know dati wanu. Like Ddikula.

tumwijuke: No. Not like Ddikula. Okay, just a bit like Ddikula, although he really falls in the category of street theatre. (Aside) Street theatre of the crudest kind, if you ask me …

Your official: Padoni?

tumwijuke: I was saying public art is defined by things like monuments, memorials, special lighting and fountains … you know, things like that.

Your official: I don’t andahstandi.

This beautiful conversation continues for a while with your senior staff finally grasping it:

Your official: Eh! Dozi wanuz do we havu the maney for dem? Follas we consenturati on developmental things. Like schooluzi, clinikisi, rubbishi and soh onu.

… and getting to the point:

Your official: Eh, but mayi dohtah! Dozi things are foh abload.

Exactly. Dozi things are foh abload. However, dear KCC, I’m slightly surprised. I always assumed your officials rather frequently accompany their better halves for shopping sprees to London. And while the ladies run around Harrods to spend the bribes dished out by desperate Kampalans in order to get building plans approved within a reasonable time frame, I thought at least your guys could take some time off to study why exactly dozi things are foh abload.

Eh?

Because for the Muzungus, a long time ago they have invented a very clever mechanism called Percent for Art:

Some governments actively encourage the creation of public art, for example, budgeting for artworks in new buildings by implementing a Percent for Art policy. 1% of the construction cost for art is a standard, but the amount varies widely from place to place. (Wikipedia)

How smart is that. Any large-scale investment, publicly or privately funded, is required to prove that at least 1% of the project costs have been used for public art stroke beautification of public space.

It’s that easy and it wouldn’t cost you a Shilling. Sincerely.

Andrew Mwenda is back in the country and with style! After having recently resigned from The Monitor citing the negative influence of the Aga Khan as a major reason, he has launched The Independent, a newspaper/magazine for ‘uncensored news, views & analysis’.

This is great news for the freedom of speech in Uganda and great news for all those who missed Mwenda’s Harakiri journalism (such as myself).

The first issue, released on 14th December, is a colour-printed 30-page A4 booklet which was published even though, according to Mwenda, the government attempted to stop the printer from publishing it ‘especially if it contains anything critical of the government’. Well, it most certainly does.

Here is my personal rating of the first issue, from double plus to double minus:

++
The project itself.
There certainly is space for a truly independent voice in Uganda’s media landscape. I love the format and hope it will not turn into a daily newspaper – rather become a weekly voice of analysis, opinion and provocation.

+
The mix of topics.
I was slightly scared that The Independent will serve as Mwenda’s personal diary or, even worse, as the forum for his private battle with the first family. And to a certain extent it does. However, overall there is a good mix of stories, including Ugandan politics, Kenyan elections, Ebola, telecommunications – and sex!

Kampala only gets mentioned briefly within the News Round-up section: The amendments to the Local Government Act which will put the Capital under the control of the central government have The Independent commenting that ‘…if past experience of the central government’s management of projects, parastatals and in fact the country is anything to go by, then many will be forgiven to wonder whether Kampala is not jumping from the frying pan into the fire!’.


The cover story. Rumour has it that The Independent is financed by former Health Minister and Museveni rival Jim Muhwezi (Mwenda’s response: ‘…that is nonsense. I have been working for more than 10 years, consulted for international organisations, etc. Don’t you think I have made enough money to begin a small newspaper?’). Whatever the facts may be, I doubt it was a smart decision to use the Museveni-Muhwezi saga as the title story of the first issue. Especially, if the story doesn’t reveal much and is full of insider information which the author can only have obtained from two sources: Muhwezi himself, and Faith Mwondha, the Inspector General of Government (he even cites a phone conversation between those two – was he standing next to them?). If for obvious reasons he can’t name his sources, he should at least describe them. Otherwise, a story risks being read as conspiracy or plain lugambo.

– –
The website.
An atrocious piece of work, even the New Vision site is better. Let’s hope it is temporary and not talk about it any further.

Garden City steel monster

You might have thought the Garden City steel monster was one of those CHOGM things that didn’t quite make it in time. It doesn’t look like it. The presidents left one month ago and still nothing has happened.

So what on earth is it? I am collecting explanations:

1. Squash courts. The thing will be glazed on all sides to form Africa’s most spectacular Squash court. (Woman in skirts will not be allowed.)

2. Janet’s Drive-in cinema. The first of the pyramid roofs actually serves as a projector stand. God TV will be screened 24/7 and if you park your car on the top deck you can actually read the Bible verses the right way round. The boda-boda guys downstairs can look at the pictures.

3. Shimoni Memorial. A blank blackboard will be installed to commemorate Shimoni Demonstration School which had to be relocated from the plot right opposite to give way to large tarmacked terraces which serve as God knows what.

Please provide better explanations.

Proposed Gaba Road-Kibuli Road link

230 metres of road and a roundabout to make sense of Kabalagala. The same idea was part of a previous post, but to make the obvious even more obvious, let me show it in a slightly less ambitious way.

The only building that needs demolishing is Kabalagala Police Station. If you have ever been inside that rat hole, you will agree that there is no need for The Historic Buildings Conservation Trust of Uganda to take action. Other than that, there might be one or to boundary walls encroaching into the road reserve.