Located near Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, Mbalwa is approximately 12 kilometres from Kampala city centre. It is in the centre of Kireka, Namugongo, Naalya and Kyaliwajjala suburbs. Mbalwa can be accessed through the Kampala Northern Bypass through Naalya, or through Jinja Road when you turn off at Shell Kireka and also through Najjeera via Kyaliwajjala.
The first thing you notice when you arrive in Mbalwa are the many residential houses that are enclosed in perimetre fences.
Rented houses are also not left out, which perhaps explains why the cost of rent is a bit high. It is a place where security is not only under the neighbourhood watch system, but social media. A case in point is WhatsApp that is used by 20 households under the group name, “Just Us.”
“There are many people who have expressed interest in joining our WhatsApp group but we decided to limit it to only 20 households for easy monitoring. If any person in the group is attacked by robbers or thieves in the night or when they need help of any kind, the immediate neighbour must come to their rescue. Other neighbours in the group also get to know immediately which informs the kind of help to be mobilised,” says Benson Sserumaga, the Just Us WhatsApp group administrator.
Cost of rent
Just like any other residential area, the cost of rent in Mbalwa is somewhat high. However, it comes with benefits such as a quiet and serene environment and easy access to public services.
“I rent a three bedroom house at Shs650,000 per month. What I like about the place is that it is quiet and even when it is hot outside, my house stays cool. When I need to access a health centre or banking services, I just need to go to Naalya and Kireka townships which are nearby and convinient for me,” says Simon Nsubuga, a resident.
While renting a self-contained double-room house costs between Shs300,000 and Shs400,000, renting a furnished apartment will cost between Shs500,000 and Shs800,000 depending on its proximity to the main road.
Renting a residential house that is isolated and is in a secure fence costs between Shs800,000 and Shs1.5m per month.
Cost of land
Much as the bigger part of Mbalwa is already occupied, small plots of land are available for sale. However, the distance of the plot from the main road determines its cost.
Peter Kayizzi, a property broker, says a 60x100ft plot of land costs approximately Shs50m while a 100x100ft plot of land costs between Shs100m and Shs120m. The cost of land is, however, also determined by your bargaining power.
“Most of the land available for sale is already registered with land titles. It is just a matter of transferring the title name from the seller to the new buyer. The other factor that raises the cost of land is that most idle plots of land are located along the main road and others just few meters away from the main road,” Kayizzi explains.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Mbalwa is affordable to the ordinary Ugandan. This is because of access to a number of strategically located markets such as Kireka, Kyaliwajjala and Namugongo.
In all these markets, Sheila Tusiime, a resident, says food prices range between Shs10,000 and Shs20,000 for a bunch of raw bananas and between Shs3,000 and Shs6,000 for a pumpkin and fruits such as pineapples and watermelons. In restaurants, food costs between Shs4,000 to Shs7,000 for beans and fish and chicken respectively.
Accessing the place
By public means, reaching Mbalwa is mostly by use of commuter taxis and Pioneer Easy buses. From Kampala City centre, it is approximately between Shs2,000 to Shs2,500 by commuter taxis depending on where you board from and between Shs1,000 and Shs1,500 by pioneer easy buses whose stop area is Kiira. On average, you will spend approximately Shs5,000 on transport alone to and from Mbalwa on a daily basis if you work from Kampala City centre.