Know your hood: Ntinda, the fast-growing commercial hub

Wednesday October 10 2012

Ntinda is one of the popular suburbs in

Ntinda is one of the popular suburbs in Kampala, however with the expansion of building and commercial centres, rent has shot up.Photo by Ismail Kezaala  

By Agnes K. Namaganda

Major players buying land
Ntinda has been known to attract big shots in government, expatriates and high income-earning Ugandans, basically, the cream in society, majorly because it has few slums. Riding on this strength, land in Ntinda has always been on the high side compared to many other places say, Najjanankumbi.

“About 10 years ago, a quarter of an acre would cost about Shs70m for a residential plot or Shs100m for a commercial plot,” Godfrey Katumba, a hardware dealer on Kayondo Road who came to Ntinda 15 years ago remembers.
Today, he says that you need about Shs300m or Shs1b for a residential or commercial plot respectively. The land is selling because service providers are eager to bring their amenities closer to these rich and therefore valued clients.
Even if you may not want to sell, Katumba says, it is easy to feel stranded, with an ageing structure standing beside ultra-modern establishments.
The “wise” residents however are only leasing the land and keeping the land titles for their great grandchildren.

Recently, Stanbic Bank opened up offices in Ntinda. But it is not the only bank serving the affluent residents of Ntinda. Barclays Bank, Finca, Tropical Bank and Bank of Africa all have branches in Ntinda.
Not to be left behind, major shopping chains too are jumping in for the kill.
Tusky’s and Quality supermarkets and have opened up in Ntinda. Fuel stations include Shell, Total, Mogas and PetroCity. Basically, Ntinda is the place where you must have an outlet to preserve your name.

Residential neighbourhoods are slowly retreating to further places like Kiwatule and Kisaasi and renting out their homes for office space to NGOs.
With big names clamouring to own a piece of Ntinda, small players have been pushed out. William Sserwadda, who works at Friends’ Salon on Ntinda Shopping Centre, says their premises (an old building that was bought off, demolished and a shopping mall erected) were previously located in this very spot.

“Our rent was Shs200,000 but on the new building, it is Shs800,000. Many boutique owners who rented space on the old building left because they could no longer afford the high rent charges.”
Yakobo’s, a popular hangout joint that was occupying present day Tusky’s, has now relocated to Kiwatule. Others that have closed or moved shop are The Deep and Shallow End.
However, the people of Ntinda were not left without a place to have fun. A more posh Club Pa Lui (which is in the basement of Ntinda Shopping Centre) that rivals the likes of Club Amnesia in the city opened up to attend to the people of Ntinda.

Independent of the city
Today, Katumba only passes through Kampala when he is going for a music lconcert, or on his way to his village in Masaka, or when he wants to check on his sisters who have businesses in the city centre. But this can take four months. He can ably work and bank his money in Ntinda without having to come to the city. He also does his shopping in the area.
However, the kind of equipment and tools Stephen Kalema who repairs and services motorcycles behind Tusky’s Supermarket uses can only be found in the city centre So he makes about four or five trips to the city each week to buy this kind of merchandise.

But he rightly agrees that other retail business owners may not need to come to Kampala because Ntinda now has bulk suppliers like Kamwe-Kamwe, a wholesale shop located on Kayondo Road.
Kalema adds that the blossoming suburb boasts of schools like St. Francis Primary School that is strong competition for the likes of Kampala Parents School so much so that a parent may not need to bother going all the way to Kampala in search of quality education.
With all the necessary facilities in the neighbourhood, Ntinda might soon be a booming business centre, only rivaled by the city centre, in the near future.

Ntinda 20 years ago
Katumba who has been operating on Kayondo Road, right in the heart of Ntinda, for the last 15 years ago has lived to see the area evolving from a trading centre to a nascent business area that is more or less, independent from Kampala now.

He reminisces: “When I would come from hanging out late in the night, I would walk all the way to Kiwatule because there were no boda bodas. We had mostly bicycles to ease our transport and the cars would all be driving towards Minister’s Village. Ntinda had piped water but it was at a low pressure and only a few rich people had taps in their compounds.”

The residents would fetch water from a stream near the current location of Crest Foam. These water woes are now a thing of the past as Ntinda now has piped water.