The population of Uganda as per at least 2012 was 33.5 million with 1.5 million living in Kampala the capital city. With the growth rate estimated at 3.3 percent, this means that the population can only go higher. A higher population inevitably puts pressure on a county’s resources and the housing sector has not been spared. As the population grows, the opportunities for quality, available housing may become an issue.
More people crowded into less space is not a good combination in any locality. The areas in inner Kampala and the surrounding areas ; Bugolobi, Nakasero, Kololo, Kireka, Banda, Nalya, Namugongo have been filled up and land prices have gone up over the years. Its only inevitable that the population keeps spreading out to some hitherto ignored areas. Namanve and Sonde may not have been choice areas of residence a few years back but are becoming very viable in this light.
Sonde is found on the undulating plains of Misindye Ward in Gomba division, Mukono district. However, for the highly geographical mind, the area is situated in Mukono, Uganda with geographical co-ordinates of 0° 24ˈ 0ˈˈ North, 32° 42ˈ 0ˈˈ East. The area is closely neighbored by Namugongo to the West and Mukono town to its East. Sonde, is located next to Namugongo, a place which, a few decades back was just a pilgrimage site but which has now become a booming surburb.
Sonde is divided into four different zones which are; Sonde central, Kasirize Sonde, Sonde Ngoda and finally Kikulu Sonde. The area is only about sixteen kilometers from Kampala City Centre.
Named after killer river
Yawe Abubaker, who has for the last twenty years been a resident of Sonde and also currently doubles as the L.C1 chairman of the place says that the history of how the area came to be referred to as Sonde has never been told by anybody or even to anyone.
“I have lived here for now twenty years, but not even my father has told me of the origins of Sonde as a name,” he notes, “And even Mzeyi Wasswa who came here a few years before I did has no clue on how the name came to be.”
However, another resident of seemingly much ancient age who only identified herself as Hajati Kimberembere says that except for the fact that back in the day there was a very long river that flowed through the area and was always known to kill at least ten people every December and it had the name Sonde, nothing of certain can be told as to how the name came of mention.
Why the area could be the next big surburb
“You would hardly believe if I told you that five years ago, all this area, even where we are sitting now was previously a bush and as well covered with many swamps,” says Mr. Yawe, “But now, the story is different. A good number of both commercial and residential structures have come up which is a great indicator of development.”
He adds that ten years ago, there was no trace of a school within the area, however, at the moment, residents are even complaining that the many schools in the area are taking over well positioned land which is suitable for setting up residential homes. Schools like St.Micheal International School, Faith High school, St. Catherine Primary school are among the many schools that stand out in the area.
Sonde which is home to over 7,000 people is a major center for the bricklaying business which is mainly carried out by the youth in the area. This explains why real estate development in the place is at tortoise-pace growth, but at least steady. The area also boosts of sufficient water availability in the form of swamps, and so agriculture is a major employment tool in Sonde.
The area security is also relatively stable. One of the police officers at Sonde police post noted with concern that in as much as for the past good number of years, the area has experienced undisputed stability and maximum security.
Martin Ssewampamba, a resident in the area says that no one around his neighborhood has complained about theft before, let alone murder, thanks to the People’s Security Committee (PSC) which idea was started by the L.C.1 chairperson of the place.
“Chairman and his people have tried so hard to make sure that through this committee, they ably deal with any security issues at hand and we cannot thank them enough,” the 22-year-old bodaboda man says.
Sajjabi Noah, a resident says that the main problem affecting the area especially during the wet season is the over flooding Nakiyanja River which when it rains, makes it impossible for vehicles to cross over the road from Namugongo to Sonde. Some residents say that during this period, they experience the cousin to a tsunami.
“Actually, if the problem of the flooding Nakiyanja river is dealt with and also the weather bound road, tarmacked, Sonde will become the next most sought for place in Mukono municipality,” says Mr. Yawe.
Namanve on the other hand, is a swamp site which is mostly sparsely populated; most of it lies in Kiira Town Council in Wakiso district, but portions of it lies in Mukono District. According to residents of the place, Namanve was a thick and large forest where people we massacred at day or night time not until today when people began cutting down trees to create space for production and building of houses.
A long time- resident, 71 year old Ketty Zalwango, the name ‘Namanve’ was derived from a swamp that was called Namanve, so when the railway line station was constructed passing through the Swamp, people would be heard saying, ‘am going to Namanve station’ thus the name caught on sparking off the whole forest place to be named Namanve until today. She also adds that the place has only three big zones which are Kazinga, Nantabulirwa, and Kireku which they share with Bweyogerere.
Namanve is located in Bweyogerere ward, in southeastern Kiira Municipality in Wakiso district, Central Uganda.
According to Gladys Semakula the wife to the LC1 chairman of Kazinga zone, “Namanve is divided into two grounds, one for the people living in the area and the other for the industrial park, but companies are forcefully pushing away the people around the area. In the early days when colonialism was at its peak, it was a forest reserve where trees were planted to avert floods and also provide fuel for running steam engines. At the time of civil conflicts and political confusion in the 1970s during Idi Amin’s era it was a dumping ground for dead bodies”. She adds that, “in the 1990s, it was then partly gazzeted for industrialization.
But in more recent years, it has become a battle ground between land grabbers and the powers of environmental institutions getting eroded”. Then someone wonders why the government has blindly failed to tell-off the owners of the companies that build in the city centre, rather then killing people with sound and air pollution yet there is free land for them.
Accesible to city centre
Joshua Opedun a resident says, “Transport is shs2000-shs2500 to go to town by taxi and the same when coming back. He says it fairly cost one shs1500 in the afternoon to and from town”.
Crime and development
The LC1 Chairman Edward Semakula says “development has been realised in the past seven years. Most people staying in Namanve have built self-contained houses unlike a few areas where the place was slummy”,
Semakula predicts that with time , “the whole place will be covered by various companies which are already showing interest in buying off all the owners of the land”.
Booming business park
The place has got companies like, Tororo cement factory. Azam Company, Namanve Railway Station, Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, Rwenzori Mineral Water Bottling Company, Red Pepper Publishing Company, Kampala industrial and Business Park, crested tanks, Darling hair and Cosmetics Company, B.AT, steel and tube industries, Hima cement and Roofings among many others.
This has made many workers shift to these areas because jobs are available. Some employees who have been working around these companies for years have bought land around the area.
However Semakula says, “iron-bar hit men have greatly increased, people are killed and injured almost every time”, when I asked him of his counter parts the police, he told me the criminals are far many than the policemen who have barely taken a year in the area and he says the criminals know how the police and his team operate, thus out-smarting them in everything.
He says the place is very dangerous from 9pm onwards and also early in the morning from 5am to 6am one can barely walk to the main road without being attached”, he also disappointingly adds that, even as early as 7pm a robber can snatch away your bag.
But this has not dettered people from settling in the area.