Kampala ‘dormitories’: Where to get affordable housing

Although some parts of Kirinya, Bweyogerere and Kyaliwajjara have upscale homes which might be a bit costly, the area also has middle class homes, apartment buildings and hotels. PHOTO BY RACHEL MABALA

What you need to know:

  • With the population in the city centre exceeding one million people, it is clear that competition for residence is inevitable and becoming inadequate.
  • Therefore, neighbouring hubs beyond the city borders have proven to be the new home for a number of people working in the city centre, evidently becoming the city’s ‘dormitory’, writes Gabriel Buule.

The growth of Kampala, which has led to the development of neighbouring areas that house a number of city dwellers has birthed the term greater Kampala, proving the fact that many of the people who work in Kampala do not reside in the city centre.
Among the many areas proving to be the city’s dormitory include Bulenga, Kireka-Banda, Bweyogerere, Busaabala, Gayaza, Nsanji-Nabingo, and Seeta- Mukono among Many.

Initially traffic could be the biggest hurdle for any person to access Bulenga since one could get stuck around Wakaliga, Nateete and Busega roundabout. But with the newly constructed Northern Bypass, Bulenga is a 34-minute drive from the city centre. Alternatively, one can use Mityana Road which is approximately 14.9kms to Bulenga Trading Centre.
Bulenga has proven to be Kampala’s major dormitory housing a number of people who work in Nateete, Wakaliga, Ndeeba and other parts of the city.

Isaac Tusingwire, a city mechanic who works in Ndeeba and rents in Bulenga, says in Bulenga, one can find a single room at a cost of Shs80,000, utilities included.
He says with transport fares at Shs2,500 on a commuter taxi, Bulenga provides a healthy living environment with noise limited in the trading centre and a green environment unlike some of the heavily polluted, congested areas in Kampala.

Services at a glance
These include established schools such as Light Academy which guarantees access to education for those with families, health centres and markets. The area is also connected to clean water courtesy of National Water and Sewerage Cooperation and access to electricity is guaranteed. For security, the area also has a police post.

Busaabala, which is about 6kms south of Kampala astride the Kampala-Entebbe Highway is another home for city dwellers. Located in Wakiso District, this is the home to One Love Beach owned by singer Bobi Wine.
The place is a complete home for anyone seeking to stay away from the city centre with social amenities such as schools, clinics, places to have fun such as bars and churches in place.

However, even though a number of people are settling in the area, Hasadul Ssempeera, a resident, notes that it would only be favourable for those who own vehicles given the dusty roads that usually become worse when it rains. He says the rains also sometimes cause sewage to spill over to people’s homes which might be a health risk.

According to James Araali, a broker, you can rent a self-contained house in Busabaala at Shs300,000, depending on the area. He adds that a one-roomed house goes for about Shs100,000 in rent and a double room apartment (without toilet and bathroom) can go for between Shs150,000 to Shs200,000.
Busaabala is also less prone to security threats compared to other suburbs such as Najjanankumbi where several robbery cases have been reported in the news.

Bweyogere, Kirinya, Kireka and Kyaliwajjara
Home to Mandela National Stadium, the area provides a prudent access to affordable houses for rent.
These three suburbs provide an ideal home for anyone working within Kampala. It also provids a lifestyle of different worlds accommodating low, middle and premier earners.

Kireka, Kirinya, Kyaliwajjara and Bweyogerere are one of the six townships or wards that constitute Kira Municipality in Wakiso District, southern central Uganda.
Just like Bweyogerere, Kireka is situated on the Kampala-Jinja Highway, approximately 11 kilometres while Bweyogerere is approximately 12 kilometres away.

Bweyogerere is home to other prominent hubs such as the townships of Kimwaanyi, Kira, Kireka, Kirinnya and Kyaliwajjala.
All the said areas have access to clean water and electricity with security manned by Uganda police force evidently with night patrols and police posts / stations.

For commuters, Bweyogere, Kirinya, Kireka and Kyaliwajjara can be accessed using a matatu at Shs2,000. Kireka can be accessed at Shs1,500 and almost a uniform fee for boda boda which is between Shs4,000 and Shs5,000.

Using the Northern bypass, one can access the area easily taking atleast 13 minutes to travel 21 kilometres in case there is no traffic hurdles and others can opt for the Kampala-Jinja Highway which has access to other areas such as Nateete on the Kampala-Masaka Highway.

Although some parts of Kirinya, Bweyogerere and Kyaliwajjara have upscale homes which might be abit costly, the area also has middle class homes, apartment buildings and hotels.

In Kirinya and Kireka, you will find rental units for low income earners and Kyambogo University students, who mostly live in Kireka, which is why rent for single and double rooms in Kireka is higher.

In Bweyogerere, to rent an upscale self-contained double room will cost you about Shs350,000 while a single room costs Shs170,000 depending on status (if in perimeter wall an extra fee is paid). A self-contained goes for Shs700,000.

In Butto, Bweyogerere, there are several apartments where rent is Shs720,000 for a two-bedroom house with nicely fitted bathrooms plus a water heater, spacious sitting room, well fitted kitchen, ample parking space and a beautiful neighbourhood.

According to Joseph Lule, a resident of Kireka and student at Kyambogo University, if you opt for Kireka, stand warned that the rent will be a bit higher with some landlords going for semester system given the influence of Kyambogo university student.
Beatrice Achan of Kirinya says security in the area is still a concern with some cases of house break-ins, a situation she attributes to the high number of people moving to the area.

Bweyogerere is home to many tribes ranging from the Kakwa from West Nile to the Samia from South Eastern Uganda with the majority of the inhabitants being the native Buganda.

The industrial park at the neighborhood Namanve offers a new glance to development. Piped water supply is accessible in most parts of the township providing an opportunity for continuous recharge of groundwater aquifers due to waste water.

Gayaza is located in the North Kyaddondo Constituency, Kyaddondo County and close to Kyanja and Wampewo on the outskirts of Kampala in Wakiso District.

The area is yet another city dormitory that houses several people who work in areas such as Kawempe, Bwaise, Mulago, Kaleerwe and the city centre.

Just like Kyanja, Gayaza has attracted several real estate dealers who have established astounding apartments and Bungalows for rent. The area also has a number of empty plots of land for sale which means that many who settle here also end up becoming the landlords.

Shanitah Nanziri, who stays in Gayaza Namavundu, says the area offers a conducive environment, especially for those who are starting families.
“You can get a big space at an affordable rate and as you save, you can easily buy land here and build your own house” she says.

Rent and access
The area is a 20-minute drive from the city centre to Kyanja Via Kisaasi Road, Namboole-Gayaza Road and Shs2,000 when commuting or Shs5,000 for boda boda users.

Getting to Gayaza takes 22 minutes via Bombo Road, Kubbiri roundabout-Gayaza with Uber users apparently spending between Shs26,000 and Shs36,500. A matatu user will part with and Shs2,500.

Renting a self-contained two-bedroom bungalow will cost you Shs500,000. In Kyanja, a semi-detached two-bedroom house goes for Shs400,000.

Easy transport
While many commuters who live in suburban areas have to drive a considerable distance and fight against traffic, you have multiple modes of public transit to depend on. Your commute determines when you wake up, when you go to bed and the amount of free time you have in the evening. It is something to think about when choosing between the suburbs and the city.