The other day on Twitter a discussion kicked off around container-carrying trucks being inappropriate for the middle of the city or residential areas such as Nakasero and Kololo.
And one tweep (it’s not impolite – that’s what we call people on twitter) jumped in accusing us of being elitist because there are floods in Bwaise that need attention. But his problem was speed of wit.
So even if you are from Bwaise and other such areas, the following should be of much interest, but stand warned that it is elitist. Before moving on, however, I think the elitism of this matter is well-placed here based on the assumption that this publication is bought mostly by the elite.
It’s just an assumption because I am keenly aware that there are more high-priced residences on hills such as Kololo, Nakasero, Bugolobi, Muyenga, Naguru, Ntinda et al, than the copies of newspapers sold on Sundays. You see, people like me assume that those residences are occupied by people whose status in life should have them buying and reading newspapers on a regular basis – not just when they go to their offices and find the company or organisation has made the purchase.
We’re not always correct; so back to my elitist issue:
Some of us have taken to jogging or walking the streets for health reasons – especially many who live in the areas abovementioned.
While doing so, we face threats to life from open manholes and insensitive drivers, for which a group of us initially blamed the Kampala City Council (and now Kampala Capital City Authority). It was their fault, we said, that manholes weren’t covered, and that we don’t have pavements or sidewalks.
Jog-walking round part of Kololo this week I dodged a couple of open, surprisingly-placed manholes but spent more time and effort dodging cars as even in this most expensive part of Kampala there are no pavements.
Additionally irritating is a section of Prince Charles Avenue (very posh name but…) that is living in Amin’s regime or Obote II or the early days of the NRA/M when soldiers and senior government officials hadn’t yet grasped the concept of power belonging to the people.
Half the road section has been cordoned off for more than a year with soil-filled drums and concrete pipe sections. KCCA’s twitter handle (@KCCAUG) explained this week that, “Work is set to start on the retaining wall on this road. Half closure was done for safeguard.” Whatever that meant, even when the road is cleared, there will still be insufficient pavements or sidewalk space.
The fault, however, is not KCCA’s. Not directly. We selfish property owners have confiscated public land by erecting walls close to the kerb and planting what we sometimes call “the outside compound”. (The KCCA should reign us in one of these days and demand that homeowners re-create common spaces and respect them – but that’s another call to action altogether, and very soon we will have to join hands in making the call and also helping the people at KCCA take the necessary action.)
It definitely started in the days when people with strong peasant mentalities suddenly found themselves to be ‘landed’, moreover in the city. Plus, the same mentalities made us/them drive cars to wherever they went so there was never a thought given to the need for comfortable perambulation (love that word!).
Have you ever seen a mugagga walking down the road to buy sugar or toilet paper? See, we send the maid or drive to the supermarket!
And mind you, the concept of relaxation by taking an evening walk…that was stuff we saw when we were children.
And as a child I also walked from home to my city primary schools and most times had reasonable pavement space for my little feet, but have noticed over the years that this kept steadily decreasing to today when most of my walking or jogging has me competing with cars and boda-bodas all being operated by insensitive, crazy people whose mentality is still very close to their villages or days long-gone.
Today’s children are more at risk as they walk to school, than we were. As are maids, gardeners and other non-resident domestic workers employed by the same house-owners who have taken over pavement and road reserve spaces.
Unless this health-exercise trend grows quicker.
You see, if more and more residents of these houses in Kololo, Nakasero, Bugolobi, Muyenga, Naguru, Ntinda et al begin jogging or taking strolls in the evenings, they will realise the need for pavements and sidewalks.
(And by now, I trust you will be in agreement with me that even this elitist issue has an impact or reach on people in Bwaise and other such places…)