Tell anyone that you live in any location on Entebbe Road and they will exclaim and ask you how you deal with the crazy traffic jams. The road has historically had a bad reputation when it comes to gridlocks. And for a good reason. The road not only leads to the airport; it also experiences endless convoys to statehouse, plus, on weekends, the same road leads to the beaches in Entebbe.
For this reason, anyone who is looking for a place to live usually avoids locations in this direction like a plague. And as a result, the rent prices along Entebbe Road tend to be friendlier than those in other areas. Ironically, there are now more traffic jams in the loved areas of Ntinda, Naalya, Kira and Namugongo, and such other north Kampala places than there is on Entebbe road.
The law of unexpected consequences has taken over the state of affairs. The masses that have moved northwards over the years have congested the area, while leaving the perceived traffic jam zone less congested. But there is another reason for the lessening traffic jams on Entebbe Road. The new Entebbe Expressway seems to have eased traffic flow on the road. While it was pretty much the only road southward from Kampala, today the expressway offers two extra routes; the Busega-Entebbe one and the Munyonyo-Entebbe alternative.
The rent comparison
While rent is generally high across the city, the price difference between the north and the south of Kampala is very surprising. A self-contained single-bedroom home with a living area is priced at between Shs400,000 and Shs500,000 in the north-Kampala triangle. In comparison, the same goes for between Shs200,000 and Shs300,000 in the areas on Entebbe road in the south. Places such as Namasuba, Seguku, Kajjansi and Nalumunye are closer to town than most northern villages and yet the prices are much lower. A three-bedroom house, complete with a fence and a gate in Kiwatule, Najeera, Kira, Naalya and other locations in the north-Kampala area goes for between Shs2m and 2.5m. The same goes for Shs1m, and no more than Shs1.5m on Entebbe road. There are a few exceptions like Lubowa and some sections of Kitende, Nalumunye and Bwebajja, but generally, the prices down south are really down south.
A two-bedroom house in north Kampala goes for as high as Shs1.5m, while the same goes for as low as Shs500,000 in the south. The two-room residence, one being the bedroom and the other a sitting room, goes for Shs400,000 in the north while it goes for Shs250,000 in the south.
Abdallah Semanda, a property dealer in Seguku and Nalumunye, says he hopes that the reduced traffic jams will pull more people to the area. “Places such as Namasuba, Zana, Seguku, Lweza, Kajjansi, Kitende and farther southward have great properties for rent. It gets cheaper as you go farther south but Kampalans still worry about non-existent traffic jams.
Today, the places where traffic would intensify for hours before the Expressway was completed, are mostly flowing with fast-moving traffic. Nonetheless, most people looking for a place to stay still tend to move northward. A reputation is hard to repair, in humans and in residential areas alike. Places such as Ntinda, Kisaasi, Kiwatule, Najeera are popular with young professionals. The whole spectrum of villages between Kampala, Gayaza and Namugongo (call it the north-Kampala triangle) are especially pricey for this same reason. It is not easy to fully ascertain why the popularity came about, but it sure has an effect on rent charges in the general area. It is a self-perpetuating cycle of demand and price.
Andrew Bakesiga, a property broker in the areas of Kira and Gayaza, says one of the reasons people like living in the north-Kampala triangle is because the houses in this zone are relatively new.
“Places such as Najeera, Kisaasi and Gayaza have only fully developed recently. Because of this, most of the rental homes here are relatively new. That means they are trendy and attractive. For that reason, they are expensive to live in,” he says.
One of the surest ways to get a guaranteed return on investment today is rental homes. With a housing deficit of 2 million units per year across the country, this remains the juiciest investment. You could declare that it will not change for decades to come and you would be right. Of the 2 million units needed every year to house the ever growing population, the major towns thirst for a quarter (500,000) of them. And Kampala by default yearns for the lions-share of that. For this reason, the demand for good rental homes in Kampala, good or bad, never goes down.