first, let’s focus our irritation on the urban planners


AFTER a three-hour journey covering ten kilometres of a tarmac road last week, I was sufficiently incensed at one group of people in particular, and hereby call for our national attention to be turned straight onto them.

See, there is no way we should be suffering with this phenomenon that links specific and predictable factors to the creation of the heavy traffic that disrupts so many lives in so many ways.

We all know when it is going to rain and we all know when schools are in or out. Rain and other weather patterns are regularly made available to us by way of the internet via mobile phones and computers.

For those still living in the past, every night there are television news bulletins that even show us graphics of raindrops, as if to accommodate those within our society who are so dim-witted they cannot recognise the four letter word ‘rain’.

As for school holiday schedules, those could be harder to identify if one doesn’t have a child resident in a boarding school. But for all the irritation they cause road users, surely we should do what I do and keep checking with parents of these children to mark the dates when they will be thronging the roads to take pilao and Minute Maid juice on visitation dates, or to pick them up for holidays.

My three hour trip last week almost put me in trouble but the person I was going to meet was also delayed, and so we agreed to change our meeting time and venue.

That day school hadn’t yet broken out but I presume most parents had whipped out their extra cars a few days early in order to test their suitability for ferrying teenagers back for the holidays.

This coincided with a rainstorm of significantly heavier proportions than normal suddenly erupting mid-afternoon and trapping us in gridlocks created by the stupidity and selfishness of road-users who couldn’t see or think beyond the number plate immediately in front of them.

A really bad traffic jam – in a photo taken from bloomberg.com and, luckily, NOT in Kampala

Many others suffered worse. My friend, Matthew Lorika, got caught in the horrendous traffic en route to a business meeting along Jinja Road that he couldn’t miss otherwise a large crop upcountry would have suffered.

Assessing the heavy Jinja Road traffic and the rainstorm looming above, he ditched his car and hopped onto a boda-boda so he could get to his destination quickly, finish business and return before the downpour. The traffic was so bad that even the boda-boda got caught in it!

He made his trip and presentation of his sample for processing and export, but had to hang around for hours waiting for the rain and traffic to clear.

In those traffic jam situations I normally join everybody else in giving way to Ambulances and every time I think to myself how unlikely it is that the sufferers inside them will make it to hospital in time to recover.

And last week I considered who those occupants might be, going through many professions. Some made me smile – like if taxi drivers could ever go on one of those life-saving rides, would they thereafter be more considerate about parking in a way that blocks traffic flow? That almost had me giggling with glee at the possibility.

But not as much as the thought of what would happen if Urban Planners were caught in life-threatening situations, put into an Ambulance, and then found the traffic so bad they couldn’t make it to the hospital on time.

That got me thinking a bit more. Who are these Urban Planners, in Kampala or Uganda?

Because I haven’t studied it professionally I had to google the phrase ‘Urban Planning’ and found it defined as: “a technical and political process concerned with the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks.”

I can only presume that we have such people employed in our central and local governments because I see it is available for study at University level in Uganda. While other institutions offer related courses, Makerere University lists a ‘Bachelors Degree in Urban Planning’ as well as a ‘Masters of Science in Urban Planning and Design’!

So where are the people who study these things? Where did they find jobs? And if the people who took those jobs in places like Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and all districts simply didn’t study for their jobs professionally, then we need the Police and Inspector General of Government and other forces to flush them out of office.

Surely the least these Urban Planners could do for us would be to announce when traffic will be heavier because of school schedules, so that we make conscious decisions to stay out of it? But no – they didn’t study any of this in school at any level, obviously.

Which makes me wonder what THEY do when caught in that traffic? Are they not irritated by it all? Or are they the ones speeding through with Ambulances and convoys with pseudo-strobe lights?

Do our Urban Planners own the fuel companies that benefit so much from the time we spend idling and crawling in traffic jams?

One way or another, there is something not right, so while the IGG and Police work out how to deal with this, since as road-users we can’t check for the weather forecast or school schedules or change our selfish driving habits, I propose a bridging solution:

Let’s give Urban Planners special number plate markers like the ones of ministers, so we can see them on the road. And let’s create some reverse sirens and strobe-lighting so that when they approach we make them stay at the very back of any line of motor vehicles they meet.

If we can just pile up all our traffic irritation onto this one group of people, it will most certainly be a beginning to getting them to solve this issue. If.

maputo, inspiring kampala and giving us hope off just one street


MY first visit to Maputo, in Mozambique, did not allow me to visit the entire city by much measure – certainly not fully in the manner that would allow me to analyse everything it had to offer, but the one street I visited for many days made me quite happy.

It is not a secluded corner of paradise carved out of the usual squalor but it qualified for my pleasant approval for a number of reasons I must share with the people at the Kampala Capital City Authority in whom I have a lot of faith.

My hosts, dealing with more than 200 guests for the week, thought of everything including the proclivity of some of the group to pursue health-related activities such as those said to be essential for the avoidance of cardiovascular diseases.

“Leave the hotel and turn right, then jog or walk along the pavement until the Monument,” read the directions the Coca-Cola Beverages Africa team gave us before we left our various countries across the continent.

I read them with the thought that any instruction of that nature about Kampala City would be incomplete without caveats to do with boda-bodas, mentally challenged motor vehicle operators, disenfranchised pedestrians, and street-side property owners so lacking in scruples that visible infringements on public property laws and regulations have not phased them in decades.

On my first evening, pleasantly relieved that the commercial discussions of the day had ended on time, I changed into health-oriented clothing and followed the given directions.

I was half-willing to give up the minute a boda-boda or tree showed up in my direct path, because the people of Mozambique speak Portuguese and having only learned three words in that language I was not ready to engage in arguments to secure territorial control – especially since I couldn’t sustain successful ones at home in the same scenario in languages I am proficient in.

The memory of finding a series of electricity poles in my footpath along an upmarket road in Kololo has never left my mind, and tempered my patient attitude.

See, the idea that these electricity poles could be smack in the middle of a path – not a pavement – on a street or road that hosts a major Ugandan bank, upmarket restaurants selling expensive food, and real estate properties valued at rates that compete globally with cities like New York, London and Paris, is humbling.

Maputo, though, is not any of the usual ‘developed country’ cities, yet this street I was on actually existed and gave me an experience I believe could exist in Kampala, if not Uganda.

I took off on a gentle trot keeping the ocean to my right being careful not to psychologically burden myself with the expectation that the ocean would be on my right all through. Surely I would occasionally find some blight such as a massive cement structure with a hundred stories facing the road and blotting out the sunset on the sea-side?

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The seaside foot and bike path in Maputo (Photo by Simon Kaheru)

Disappointing. My right hand side was clear and my trip kept getting disrupted by the sounds of the ocean waves lapping against the sands, making me turn often to watch the white rush of water breaking and going back towards the Asias.

I kept turning back quickly to the road to ensure that no boda-boda would run into my knees and create a medical emergency or, more worryingly, cause my blood to blot the otherwise clean inter-locking paving stones forming the public pavement.

I went three kilometres before realising the risk of that was absolutely zero. And, unlike places I am used to, without revealing where I live and normally operate such manouvres, even if a boda-boda had sped up towards me using the pedestrian road option we would certainly have had enough space to share the width of the pavement!

It was confusing but I kept my cool all the way and constrained myself to stop my excitement attracting attention from various onlookers. There were quite a number – people jogging, others sitting on public benches as couples in comfortable arrangements and viewing the ocean, street entrepreneurs selling coconuts and other local street snacks, and small crowds waiting for taxis they refer to as ‘My Love’ .

They call these ‘My Love’ explained Sergio Fernandes, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Public Affairs Supremo, because passengers get squashed in the vehicle and hold onto each other so tightly that they might as well refer to each other as ‘My Love’.

Returning to the wide and clean pavements from that digression was easy because there was so much space to meander in and out of safe spaces without stepping into the road – onto the sandy beaches, into roadside tarmacked parking lots, and following curves built into the road to ease foot (not motor vehicle) traffic.

The Mozambiquans have paid so much attention to pedestrians and non-motor vehicularised activities that along a three-kilometre stretch of ocean-front road they have stopped buildings being erected and even built public metallic exercise and game machines.

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Seaside public exercise and play machines in Maputo (Photo by Simon Kaheru)

I have seen these before in Beijing, China – metallic exercise benches, climbing and lifting frames, swings and what not that everyone and anyone can make use of to achieve physical fitness over time – without paying a gym subscription.

Their very existence encourages residents and visitors to the city to use this circuit for their daily or periodical health routines – besides or on top of the existence of that ocean.

Because such people normally walk around with bottled water and other snacks packaged in disposable, non-degradable materials, at two specific points the Mozambiquans provided creatively designed garbage receptacles for plastics, organic waste and paper (all separate).

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Eye-catching and innovative waste separation bins in Maputo (Photo by Simon Kaheru)

And along the route, to cater for the weather, there were trees with canopies providing the type of shade that would have cost a hefty sum if inorganic materials and labour costs had been involved.

It didn’t take me all six kilometres of ocean front to make up my mind about spending time, and therefore money, in Maputo. That one stretch of road was so fulfilling that I would find it difficult to essay another within that city, in case of disappointment, yet it made me believe that they existed.

And that is what I trust that the Kampala Capital City Authority in whom I have a lot of faith will pay keen attention to in due course, for God and MY Country, as well as theirs.

Obrigado!

raise those hawkers respectfully to major economic heights


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Photo from http://www.emmasadventuresinuganda.wordpress.com/tag/icye/

SINCE I was much younger I have found engagements with street hawkers entertaining in many ways. Along the way I have graduated from comical time-wasting banter to what I hope is a more useful sort of interaction.

I distinctly recall one incident in about 1993 at a place called Hakuna Matata in Bukoto, when one of us – Gary Samuel, we called him, called a hawker over and asked: “Olina…bino?” (‘Do you have…these?’) and gestured with his palm held out flat and slicing into the air sharply.

The hawker, arms full of plastics and mostly light kitchen utensils, had no clue what Gary was asking about but tried guessing. Knives? No. Spoons? No. Brushes? No. Brooms? No.

Everything he was vending was in full view, in his hands and slung over his shoulder and back.

And with each guess, Gary insisted with more animation and sharper gestures shooting higher into he air: “Bino! Bino! (Luganda for ‘These’) Things that go like this (Shooting gesture high into the air). Bino!

We all joined in on the guessing game but none of us could get it right. I could see the hawker losing hope of making a sale, and felt sorry for him when I realized how much direct sunshine he was absorbing. If he had started his journey somewhere in Kikuubo and had his time wasted like this at every bar and pork joint he stopped at but in exchange for a small tip, he would be a millionaire.

He was still guessing in the hope that he would make a sale, while the rest of us who were seated in the shade and having a drink were already fed up with the game. We insisted that Gary put a stop to it and he finally stated what he was asking for:

Olina…amabaati (‘Do you have IRON ROOFING SHEETS?!’)”

Laughter ensued, and the crestfallen hawker sauntered off. Some of us felt bad about it, and I can’t lose the memory of that, and other times when hawkers got asked for DSTV dishes, tractor tyres and other such ridiculous items.

I have tried to make amends over the years in various ways, mostly by showing this cadre of Ugandan entrepreneur a lot more respect and courtesy than they usually receive; for instance, I don’t swat them off when they approach me at traffic lights or in heavy traffic. Instead, I politely smile and mouth a “No, thank you.”

Their stigma is hard to appreciate – imagine being a hawker and finding the sign “Hawkers Not Permitted Here” on every door you walk past even when you are not vending your wares.

Recently, my change of policy towards hawkers has led to interventions of a different kind.

I am keenly aware that the Kampala Capital City Authority Act (2010) Section 3 of Part A, gives KCCA the responsibility to “Prohibit, restrict, regulate or license (a) the sale or hawking of wares or the erection of stalls on any street…”

Because of that, I am rarely eager to exchange money for wares from hawkers, but there is some other support they can benefit from, as one Robert Mwesize reminded me last Friday.

He was vending soft cuddly toys, normally called Teddy Bears, in Ntinda. He hesitated at us because he didn’t think a random group of men fitted in his categorization of sure-deal clients.

We called him over anyway and quickly bought a couple of his second-hand Bears so we could have a conversation with him.

At first, he was reluctant to give us his second name, which gave us the opportunity to explain to him why he needed to do so to increase his sales over time. Then we told him that since he only sold Teddy Bears, as he confessed, he had chosen to specialise and now needed to brand himself as the Teddy Bear guy.

So we took his number (0751266921) and saved it as Robert Mwesize Teddy Bear. I offered him my number but he didn’t see the relevance till I explained that if he built up a customer database he could make regular sales to repeat clients by direct marketing.

All the men in the group, we told him, had wives, girlfriends, daughters and other female interactions that they needed Teddy Bears for. Besides, we explained, if you vended these wares and told these customers that they would make good gifts to hand in as they got home late that night…

His eyes lit up as the brief conversation developed. We even suggested to him that he should spend more time studying the soft, cuddly toys and figuring out a way of making some of his own.

Surely that is possible, isn’t it? Yes, he responded in a low tone of voice as he studied his wares more closely.

We left it there, but I have his number if you are in the market for a Teddy Bear, and high hopes that one day Robert Mwesize will be the owner of a factory manufacturing Teddy Bears somewhere in Kampala, or at least operating a slick distribution system of soft toys to a growing customer base.

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the FINAL court order on Lukwago, and the statements by the minister for Kampala and the attorney general


THIS is the text of the Court Order (not verbatim) issued today:

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THE COURT ORDER (EXTRACTED):

a. An interim injunction doth issue restraining the Minister in charge of Kampala Capital City, his agents and or servants and all persons acting under his authority from acting on the Report of the KCCA Tribunal (2013) Constituted to investigate allegations against the Lord Mayor of Kampala Capital City Authority Pursuant to a Petition of CounciLlors of Kampala Capital City Authority until the final determination of Misc. Cause No. 362 of 2013.

 

b. An interim injunction doth issue restraining the 1st Respondent, the Minister in charge of Kampala Capital City Authority, their agents and or servants, CouncilLors of Kampala Capital City and all persons acting under authority of the 1st Respondent from proceeding with vote for the removal of the Applicant for the office of the Lord Mayor, Kampala Capital City Authority until the final determination of Misc. Causes No 362 of 2013.

 

c. An interim injunction doth issue restraining the 1st Respondent and/or the Minister responsible for Kampala Capital City from convening a meeting of Kampala Capital City Authority to discuss the report of the Tribunal and proceeding with a vote for the removal of the Applicant from the office of Lord Mayor of Kampala Capital City Authority until the final determination of Misc. Cause 362 of 2013.

 

d. An interim injunction doth issue restraining the Minister responsible for Kampala Capital City from convening a meeting of Kampala Capital City Authority to discuss the report of the Tribunal and proceeding with a vote for the removal of the Applicant from the office of Lord Mayor of Kampala Capital City Authority until the final determination of Misc. Cause No. 362 of 2013.

 

e. Costs of this Application be provided for.   

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And THIS is Minister Frank Tumwebaze’s Statement in response, issued a couple of hours later:

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MINISTER’S STATEMENT ON THE CASE OF ERIAS LUKWAGO VERSUS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND THE TRIBUNAL INVESTIGATING THE PETITION AGAINST THE LORD MAYOR VIDE MISCELLANEOUS APPLICATION 445 OF 2013.

 

28th November 2013

 

The former Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago filed an application against the Attorney General and the tribunal investigating the petition against the Lord Mayor vide Miscellaneous Application 445 of 2013, seeking interim orders to bar myself, the Authority councillors, agents and any other persons from convening a meeting to deliberate on the Tribunal’s report and not to conduct any further acts pursuant to that report.

 

By this time, I had convened a meeting of the Authority scheduled for the 25th of November at 9.00 a.m. at KCCA Authority chambers. On the said date, the Authority councillors in attendance voted on a resolution to remove the Lord Mayor from office when twenty nine Authority councillors voted in favour of the Lord Mayor`s removal and three voted against. The Lord Mayor ceased to hold office at 9.30 a.m. when the said resolution was passed.

 

Today, I have learnt that the High Court has issued an interim injunction barring myself, the Authority councillors and agents and other persons from convening a meeting to deliberate on the Tribunal’s report and not to conduct any further acts pursuant to that report until the main cause is heard.

 

I have further learnt that the Attorney General drew it to the attention of the Learned Judge both in his letter to the Court on 26th November 2013 and in his statement before the Court today that the impeachment proceedings had been concluded prior to grant and service of the initial interim order. The Learned Judge has instead chosen to proceed and pronounce himself on the second interim order as if these facts had not taken place.

 

The interim injunction has thus been issued on the 28th of November 2013 seeking to stop the meeting that occurred on 25th November 2013. The interim injunction is therefore impossible to implement as we cannot stop a meeting that has already occurred. Infact the seat of the Lord Mayor has already been declared vacant and the Electoral Commission has been accordingly informed.

 

We are not able to implement the order since clearly it has been overtaken by events which the Court was not able to consider in these applications. We have however sought the legal advice of the Attorney General on this matter.

 

 

 

Frank Tumwebaze

MINISTER FOR THE PRESIDENCY AND IN CHARGE OF KAMPALA CAPITAL CITY

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And THIS is the Attorney General’s Statement issued a couple of hours later still:

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ATTORNEY GENERAL’S STATEMENT ON THE CASE OF ERIAS LUKWAGO VERSUS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND THE TRIBUNAL INVESTIGATING THE PETITION AGAINST THE LORD MAYOR VIDE MISCELLANEOUS APPLICATION 445 OF 2013. 

 

28th November 2013 

 

 

This afternoon, High Court Justice Yasin Nyanzi granted the former Lord Mayor Mr. Erias Lukwago the following reliefs:- 

 

1. An interim injunction restraining the Minister in charge of Kampala Capital City from acting on the report of the KCCA tribunal. 

 

2. An interim injunction restraining the Attorney General and the Minister in charge of Kampala Capital City and the KCCA Councillors from proceeding with the vote for his removal from office. 

 

3. An interim injunction restraining the Attorney General and/or the Minister for Kampala Capital City from convening a meeting of KCCA to discuss the tribunal report. 

 

4. Costs of the application. 

 

 

The background to this ruling is as follows:- 

 

The former Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago filed an application against the Attorney General and the tribunal investigating the petition against the Lord Mayor vide Miscellaneous Application 445 of 2013, seeking the above interim orders. 

 

By this time, the Minister for Kampala had convened a meeting of the Authority scheduled for the 25th of November at 9.00 a.m. at KCCA Authority chambers. On the said date, the Authority councillors in attendance voted on a resolution to remove the Lord Mayor from office.Twenty nine Authority councillors voted in favour of the Lord Mayor`s removal and three voted against. The Lord Mayor ceased to hold office at 9.30 a.m. when the said resolution was passed by the Authority. 

 

On the same day the Assistant Registrar of the High Court issued an interim order that sought to stop the process of impeachment of The Lord Mayor. Unfortunately, by the time the order was issued and communicated, the process of impeachment had been completed. 

 

This position was communicated in my letter to the Court on 26th November 2013 and in the State Attorney’s address to the Learned Judge before the Court delivered its ruling today. The Court however felt it was better to deal with the application and the facts as they stood when the application was filed on 20th November 2013 ie. as if the meeting in which the Lord Mayor was impeached had not taken place. 

 

The interim injunction has thus been issued today, the 28th of November 2013 seeking to stop the meeting that occurred on 25th November 2013. The interim injunction is therefore impossible to implement as we cannot stop a meeting that has already occurred. Infact the seat of the Lord Mayor has already been declared vacant and the Electoral Commission has accordingly been notified in accordance with the law. 

 

None of the reliefs granted to Mr. Erias Lukwago by the High Court requires his reinstatement to the office of Lord Mayor. The resolution passed by the KCCA councillors removing Mr. Lukwago from the office of The Lord Mayor remains valid. 

 

Much as it is the obligation and desire of this office to implement all orders of Court, the fact that the orders have been issued after the authority meeting has taken place and resolution for removal has been passed, this makes the orders unenforceable. I am however taking steps to have the order discharged by the Courts. 

 

 

 

Hon. Peter Nyombi 

ATTORNEY GENERAL

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