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Tag Archives: urban planning

The rescue of the remaining and the creation of new recreational parks within Kampala should focus on two zones: valleys and hilltops. The former is a physical necessity; wetlands with frequent flooding make developments either costly (if they are done properly), or hazardous (if not).

Sparing the hilltops from further privatisation is more of an Urban Design issue.

In a recent Monitor article, Mr Frank Matovu, an Architect in the Urban Planning and Land Management Department at KCC, was quoted as saying that further sub-divisions of Kampala’s hilltops threaten their very existence. “Nakasero hills should be covered by trees but people are sub-dividing the original plots and structural developments are coming up thus most of the trees are being cut.”

It is good to hear that, for once, a KCC official actually states that Kampala’s hilltops should be covered by trees. Surely, that is a brand new policy. Or what happened here:

Naguru Hill, Kampala

Refering to the practical aspects on how to handle public green spaces, the article further quotes Mr Matovu as saying that “it is better to let everybody know them and give it’s management to private individuals who should work under close supervision of the concerned authorities. The private developer can then come up with a few income generating activities within the public space and impose a fee on them to help him pay his bills.”

While principally there is nothing wrong with private management of public spaces, the “close supervision of the concerned authorities” will never take place if Mr Matovu has his own organisation in mind. If KCC is running the show, we end up with Kisementi Gardens (two tiny triangular pieces of lawn, cut into two by a petrol station = the private developer); or Centenary ‘Park’ – a bit of green littered with uncompleted shopping malls and restaurants.

All of this is spiced by KCC’s idiotic fence-obsession. A public space – whether publicly or privately managed and financed – DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY FENCES. What is public about a caged area? Are we in England? Why don’t we allow people to walk through a park where and when they want to? And what on earth do the traffic islands around Clock Tower need fences for?

Kampala’s North is blessed with a system of three circular roads sparing motorists from ever passing through the city centre: Yusuf Lule Road, Lugogo Bypass/Kira Road and the new Northern Bypass.

No such luxury is provided to the South since those roads effectively form three semi-circles ending on the Bombo-Kampala-Jinja Road barrier.

So let’s accomplish them.

Circle 1 is simply (and, yes, expensively) completed by introducing Canal Street, a lid on top of Nakivubo Channel creating a dual carriageway between Clock Tower and Wandegeya.

Circle 2 takes us on a slightly longer journey:

Proposed Southern Ringroad, Kampala

It starts out at Kampala’s most lethal junction – outside Game, where Lugogo Bypass meets Jinja Road. On a new link to Bugolobi that cuts across the greenfield site between Umeme and the Rugby Club we reach Old Port Bell Road which we briefly join before turning right onto 5th Street. We stay on that road until we reach Maersk. 140m of a new road take us across the railway tracks.

We turn left onto Kisugu Road (the one passing International Hospital at the lower side). We more or less follow that road through the Namuwongo mess, all the way to Muyenga. Just before the road takes us around Monkey Hill to Bukasa, we turn right. We go straight up towards Tank Hill Road which we cross somewhere below Hotel International. At this point, a few metres of new road will be needed in order to join Kiwafu Road (Muyenga Bypass) – this is the road that passes Heritage School and ends in Kansanga.

We cross Gaba Road near Didi’s World and dip straight down into the Rainbow School swamp. Up the hill until we meet Buziga Road where we turn right. We follow this road all the way to Central Military Intelligence in Makindye where we turn right. At Makindye roundabout we continue straight, now on Masaka Road where we stay for a little more than a kilometre. A piece of a new road takes us across to Kabaka’s Lake. We join Nabunya Road which takes us up to Mengo. A little bit of readjusting (i.e. demolition) will enable us to reach Sentema Road which takes us down to one of Kampala’ most underrated streets: Mutesa I Road (starts off opposite Fufa House on Natete Road and is in a terrible condition). This road leads us straight to the end of our 17km trip around Kampala: Mutesa I Road turns into Makerere Hill Road and ends at Wandegeya junction.

95% of this suggested corridor uses existing roads but of course in large parts road reserves have been ignored and would need to be enforced. It’s Kampala’s Number One disease to disrespect public space by banging buildings and boundary walls into it. Only a very strong administration and a lot of political will (and compensation money) could move this city ahead.

Which is why this post is in the Dream On category.

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.

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.