As you approach the road toll market, a few metres after Lwera on the Kampala-Masaka highway, your nostrils will be hit by the aroma of roasted meat. And then you will be enveloped by meat in all shapes, sizes and types.
Men, women, boys and girls throng travellers tempting them with their sumptuous offerings.
To many people who ply Kampala-Masaka road, this roadside market is what they refer to as Lukaya. However, this is just a small part of the big town which is developing at high speed.
Located in Kalungu District, Lukaya Town is close to the shores of Lake Victoria approximately 28 kilometres south of the equator in the North East of Masaka and 103kilometres southwest of Kampala.
A number of residents in the area believe the town was named Lukaya, a luganda word meaning exhaustion by travellers who used to rest in the area.
According to Aisha Mirembe, the Lukaya Town Council councillor, the town was a refreshment ground for tired travellers from Kampala to Buddu (greater Masaka).
“After crossing the Lwera wildness, travellers would stop here to rest and also get some refreshments. The travellers would be heard saying olwera lukaya - literally meaning that the journey through Lwera is tiresome,” Mirembe narrates.
Mirembe, says just like many other major towns in Uganda, Lukaya was also majorly built by Indian traders. “The Indians set up stores for their produce collected from the villages. This included maize and coffee, among others.
Later, since the area attracted a number of trucks loading produce and merchants, residents devised means of starting a roadside market to sell food to the turnboys and traders,” Mirembe says.
As the roadside traders increased, exhausted trailer drivers from Mombasa Port heading to the western and southern regions also started stopping in the town thus boosting the lodging business there.
Gerald Ssenyondo, the Lukaya Town chairperson, says after construction of lodges and bars, the area became prone to prostitution. “It started becoming shameful for a woman to say she was from Lukaya,” Ssenyondo says.
But as time went by, many businessmen and women settled in Lukaya since this was the collection point for all goods and services before their journey to Kampala.
The traders further developed the town by building better shops including the first storeyed building in the area. Ssenyondo adds that because of their impact, a number of cells including Juma Cell, Magezi Cell were named after some of these traders.
One stop centre
Although some people had deserted the town during the 1980 bush war, a few years after the war, people started settling back in the area and have since turned Lukaya into a one-stop centre for many traders.
Ali Matovu, a resident, says a number of businesses have been set up in the area since then including wholesale shops and salons among others. Fishing is also carried out at the three landing sites of Kamuwunga, Kalangala and Bulingo.
Health and education
The town has one public health centre- Luyaka Health Centre which is supported by Uganda cares and numerous clinics and drug shops. There are also a number of primary and secondary schools such as Bajja Community Primary School and King David High School .
Majority of residents access piped water supplied by National Water and Sewerage Corporation as well as electricity which provides an opportunity for job creation.
Cost of land and rent
The area has huge chunks of unoccupied land which have since been portioned by property estate dealers. Kennedy Kalyango, a property master, says a 50x100ft plot of land costs between Shs8m and Shs15m. Kalyango says renting a single room costs between Shs40,000 and Shs60,000 while a double room goes for between Shs90,000 and Shs110,000 with the location and quality of the room as the deciding factors.
Unlike in the past where Lukaya was largely known for harbouring people who engaged in dubious activities such as pick pocketing, robbery, burglary and prostitution, the town is becoming more secure nowadays with reduced cases of criminality.