Martyrs changing Namugongo’s fortunes

Wednesday June 12 2019

Namugongo has evolved from the bushy

Namugongo has evolved from the bushy neighbourhood it was in the 1980s to an investment hub . Photo by Paul Murungi 

By Paul Murungi

In its 2018 report for the second half of the year, Knight Frank, a real estate company named Namugongo as a hotspot for accommodation as people moved away from high-end suburbs such as Kololo, Nakasero and Naguru.
Factors for the mad rush to Namugongo included an increase in supply of residential housing stocks which were mainly apartments, by 12 per cent.

In 2019, the area attracted at least four million pilgrims according to Uganda Tourism Board figures for the annual Martyrs’ Day celebrations. This was an advantage for those with businesses such as supermarkets, accommodation facilities like hotels and guest houses.
In fact, those with homes in the area prefer to rent them out during Martyrs’ Day season depending on proximity to both the Anglican and Catholic martyrs’ shrines.

Mr Henry Serunjogi, the LC I chairperson of Nsawo cell has lived in Namugongo since 1982 marking 37 years in the area. He says he’s surprised at Namugongo’s development. He describes the area as bushy in the late 1980s especially after the National Resistance Army war till 2000.
“It was a typical village where people used to practise farming and brewing of alcohol. Land was sold in bibanja at about Shs200, 000 and Shs300, 000,” he says.

However, in early 2000, people started scouting the area for land. At the time, plots of land cost between Shs3 to Shs7 million depending on location and proximity to the area.
Originally, Namugongo was a single village bordering Kyaliwajjala, and separated by Mukono at the Nakiyanja stream in the north. However, with an influx of people, the area was later sub-divided into Nsawo, Jjjanda and Bulooli cells. This was for effective management. Bulooli is named after Kalooli Lwanga, one of the Catholic martyrs.

It is a sprawling residential area with high-end apartments, wall-fenced homes and storied buildings housing supermarkets, hotels, and a number of other businesses such as salons, merchandise shops, hardware, plumbing and medical centres.
Mr Serunjogi says the martyrs’ shrines and proximity to the city attracted people to settle in the area.
Namugongo is a bee hive of activity in real estate terms. Hardware shops established in the area are a testament to this. Unfortunately, many are not ready to divulge details of their sales.
You don’t need to leave Namugongo to access good services such as medical, education, transport, or technical services like plumbing and electrical wiring.

Good drainage systems have been encouraged in the area with the help of authorities.
Namugongo well-tarmacked roads, good feeder and access roads. Piped and spring water as well as electricity.
Unfortunately, the area lacks a proper market. Most residents travel to nearby markets of Kyaliwajjala and Sonde for food stuffs. A few people within the area sell food on a small scale.

Pioneer buses which ply Kira road through Ntinda and Naalya charge a standard fare of Shs1500 to Kampala. However, taxis too are in abundance, charging between Shs2,000 and Shs2,500.
However, they can be exorbitant, on a few occasions, such as rainy days and Martyrs’ Day.
Special hire vehicles are also in place for quick transport.
Someone looking to live in Namugongo should be ready to accept the inconvenience that comes with Martyrs’ Day celebrations.
That includes high public transport costs and diversions from the main road as well as traffic jam.


Cost of land and rent
Mr Abraham Kayondo who settled in Namugongo to start a photography business, notes that rent has risen at astronomical levels in the last four years. He started out renting at Shs150, 000 years back but he now pays Shs300, 000.
For those interested in building a home or rentals, Mr Joseph Musoke, a real estate agent, advises them to carry a full purse as it is no longer for the ‘weak’. Business in Namugongo is booming. Therefore, to rent a commercial house within the area costs between Shs300, 000 and Shs500, 000 close to the main road.

Self-contained single rooms range between Shs200, 000 and Shs300, 000. Other single rooms cost between Shs100, 000 and Shs150, 000. However, these are not self-contained. Self-contained apartments for rent cost Shs450, 000 to Shs 1.2 million depending on the distance and security including a wall fence and a security guard.
Buying a two bedroom residential house in the area costs Shs250M to Shs300million. Meanwhile a three bedroom house goes for Shs400M. Getting a residential house for sale is possible. The main reason is because the original residents are shifting to other areas like Mukono paving way for new residents.

A plot of land ranges between Shs45 and Shs70 million for 100 x 50 feet. And 100 x 100 feet goes for Shs90 million. An acre goes for Shs200 million but is hard to get by.
To construct a commercial or residential house in the area, one needs to follow stringent measures set by Namugongo Division authorities given its international tourist centre status.

Investment opportunities
Mr Kayondo says most people in the area are elite and prefer quality services. One must be ready to meet the demands of the middle class for any business you start.
Most people in the area have invested in rentals, supermarkets, hardware shops, salons, merchandise shops, and guest houses.
Namugongo doesn’t have notable recreational facilities such as swimming pools, good night clubs. This can be a good investment venture.

Mr Serunjogi says he instituted a policy in his area of jurisdiction where all homes have numbers and access roads’ names. Some homes have also installed security alarms which puts the neighborhood at an advantage incase of intrusion by burglars. Some residents have dogs which roam the neighbourhoods at night keeping thieves at bay.
There are also two police posts in the area at the martyrs’ shrines.