Located 11km from Mukono town along the Jinja Road highway, Namawojjolo is popular for the muchomo hawkers who are a delight to travellers along that route. Most unique of the roast meat on sale are the chicken pieces that taste like no other you have eaten anywhere else.
If you care to notice, you will realise that the vendors shoving the meat delights through your car window will either wear maroon or blue gowns. Moses Mukasa Magaasi, the vice chairman of the area, explains that Namawojjolo is subdivided into two zones, Namawojjolo East and West, with two markets- maroon and blue. These are differentiated according to the gowns worn by the vendors.
Birth of the business
There is a tale of Namawojjolo being partly owned by a ghost, but that is not the one the chairman knows. Magaasi, who also works within the area, says Namawojjolo stated getting known in the 1970s when four women came out to trade their harvested farm products to the travellers.
They started with food items such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and onions among others. The place was then referred to as Kunyanya (a place well known for tomato selling). Later, a one Muchomo, relocated to the place and started up beef and chicken roasting.
This was the business that ended up attracting many people growing the market and the area along with it.
“It was a bushy and low developed area with few residents, mainly farmers with their homes situated about 15 meters apart. A few brought their produce to the stalls alongside the road for sell,” recounts Magaasi.
Magaasi says the market that accommodates about 800 venders we see today started as four wooden stalls. Business has grown beyond roast meat vending, resulting into commercial buildings which accommodate hard ware shops, retail shops, super markets, boutiques, salons, electrical shops, bars and restaurants, among others. Commercial rooms (business) range between Shs150,000 to Shs250,000 depending on the size and location along or off the main road.
“As different opportunities come up, many people are relocating from their areas to Namawojjolo for jobs so the population has grown too,” Magaasi reveals. Farming is, however, slowly dying out as other businesses grow.
The area boosts of piped water, fair schools but still lacks on healthcare because it does not have a well facilitated hospital but rather clinics. Magaasi says for health care beyond basic treatment, patients are referred to Kawolo Referral Hospital.
Growing land value
In the 1990s, a single room cost between Shs8,000 (muddy floor with no electricity) to Shs10,000 (cemented with electricity). Rental cost then raised to between Shs30,000 to Shs50,000 in 2000. Currently a single room in Namawojjolo costs between Shs70,000 and Shs100,000. Rent for self -contained houses ranges from Shs200,000 to Shs500,000 depending on size and number of rooms.
Around 2000, you could purchase a 50x100 plot of land for as low as Shs1.5m to Shs2m, and a 100x100 was at Shs3m. Not anymore. An acre of mailo land along the main road costs about Shs25m to Shs100m, a 50x100 Shs50m, and at least Shs15m for 50x100 off the road.
Land wrangles are not common in the area, according to Magaasi, who says the few issues that come up are handled and rectified in his office.
Ahummed Kigundu Kafeero, the in charge of security in the area, has lived in Namawojjolo for the last 42 years. He talks about the area as one of the hubs that housed armed thieves years ago. The area also experienced highway robberies, which Kafeero says has been managed over a time.
However, there is still some insecurity to grapple with, owing to the increasing rates of unemployment and growing population which results in undocumented residents.
Ahummed Kigundu Kafeero, the in charge of security in the area, says; “We receive cases of petty thefts and a few house break-ins mostly when the owners are away. There is also a problem of people robbing goods off trailers that park by the road side at night,” he reveals. His office registers not more than 10 theft cases daily, which are referred to Nama Police Station since there is no station or post in the area.
“Although we have never registered cases regarding rape or defilement, we are still overwhelmed by security threats as this calls for improved man power.”