Why Kampala floods are not about to end

Thursday October 17 2019

Chaos. Motorists and passengers wade through

Chaos. Motorists and passengers wade through flooded Queens Way on Entebbe Road in Kampala after a downpour on October 10. PHOTO BY EDGAR BATTE  


Whenever skies open, transport in most parts of Kampala grounds to a halt, with torrential floods wreaking havoc in most places.

Apparently, the problem is down to the fact that the new drainage master plan, which was meant to resolve the flooding problem in the city, is yet to be implemented. The master plan was updated last year from the one that had been drafted in 2003.

Daily Monitor understands that KCCA lacks money to roll out the new master plan, implying that city residents and motorists will continue to face flooding, especially now that the wet season is at its peaks.
The most affected are the slum dwellers and those in low lying areas on the banks of the drainage channels.

KCCA’s acting deputy executive director Samuel Serunkuuma says the authority needs at least Shs800 billion to implement the new master plan.
“We updated the drainage master plan but we do not have money to implement it. We have since informed government about our need for more funding,” he says.
Mr Serunkuuma decries KCCA’s little resource envelope, saying the Shs800b needed to mitigate floods is almost twice KCCA’s current budget.

For instance, in the 2019/20 budget, he says the authority was allocated only Shs371b despite cries from both technocrats and politicians at City Hall to have the budget increased to a least Shs1trillion.
Technocrats at City Hall say the authority will now focus on major channels and leave out the others until more funding is realised.

The master plan
The new drainage master plan was updated by developing a new implementation programme for storm water drainage that reflects the current socio-economic challenges in the city.


Unlike the 2003 drainage master plan, the updated master plan is aligned to the larger metropolitan area.
One of the objectives of the 2003 drainage master plan was to construct tributaries into Nakivubo drainage channel. But changes in the city’s physical planning triggered by a swelling population means that this is outdated.

For instance, technocrats at KCCA say the 2003 drainage master plan was poorly disseminated both within and outside Kampala, which affected its implementation.
The implementation of the 2003 master plan was only restricted to only Kampala and did not take into account the spatial drainage interrelationship between Kampala and the metropolitan area.

Kampala’s drainage is mainly through eight primary channels. These are Lubigi, Nakivubo, Kinawataka, Nalukolongo, Kansanga and Ggaba, Mayanja/Kaliddubi, Nakelere/Nalubaga, and Walufumbe and Mayanja North. These are served by numerous secondary and tertiary systems.

Last year, KCCA announced that they would construct Lubigi, Nakamiro and Nalukolongo channels with funding from World Bank. Unlike Lubigi and Nalukolongo, which are primary channels, Nakamiro is a secondary channel that discharges into Lubigi.
However, the construction of the channels as announced has not kicked off. A recent downpour in different parts of the city displaced some residents on Nalukolongo channel and destroyed their properties.

Funding gaps
KCCA drainage manager Brian Bagala says Nakamiro, Lubigi and Nalukolongo channels as highlighted in the master plan were given priority because of their sorry state. For instance, Mr Bagala says Nakamiro is the longest and most populated channel hence more funds are needed for compensation. He adds that KCCA has since made an evaluation for compensation of people living along the channel.

Nakamiro channel, which measures 3.2km, will be expanded and lined with concrete from Kazo Angola to Lubigi, to an average width of seven metres with provisions for pedestrians to cross.

Constructing channels
However, Mr Bagala says the government valuer raised some compensation concerns on Nalukolongo channel, which he said will first be addressed.
“For Nalukolongo channel, KCCA and UNRA will reach an agreement because both parties are making independent valuations. UNRA’s Busega-Mpigi expressway project will affect some residents along the channel and that is why we have to evaluate and see who compensates who,” he says.

According to the construction plan, the channel, which is estimated to be 30 meters wide and 7km long, starts from Kibuye and ends at Busega.
Meanwhile, there will be no compensation for persons living on the Lubigi channel. Mr Bagala says compensations for Lubigi were made during the first phase of construction.

The first phase of Lubigi channel was constructed by Spencon Services Ltd, with the aim of preventing flooding in Bwaise, Kawempe Division, but it is constantly clogged with silt and polythene bags, which causes backflow of water.
The second phase of Lubigi channel measures 2.5km and stretches from Bwaise to Hoima Road.

According to the master plan, the channel will be expanded and lined with concrete from Bwaise to Kawaala using already acquired drainage corridor of about 40 meters. The channel will thereafter be widened to about 100 meters to Hoima Road.
The entire Lubigi channel constitutes of 12.55km of the main channel and about 20km of the secondary channels spreading through Nakawa, Kawempe, Central and Lubaga divisions.

Lubigi forms an irregular semi-circle around the city of Kampala, starting around Kisaasi to the north, stretching westwards through Bwaise and Kawaala and southwards through Busega, totalling to about 42km.
The swamp has feeder arms that stretch on the Kampala–Mityana road towards Buloba, on Kampala–Masaka road towards Kyengera, on Kampala-Hoima Road towards Nansana and on Sentema Road that stretches from Mengo to Sentema.

The Kampala Northern Bypass is built within Lubigi wetland for more than half of its length. Bwaise slum is entirely built within Lubigi wetland.
Though city authorities had planned construction of some secondary channels such as Katanga, Nsooba, Kiyinja, Kawaala and Kiwunya which discharge into Lubigi, there are no funds.

Mr Bagala says failure to construct the secondary channels has aggravated the siltation of Lubigi channel.
Mr Bagala says since they have designs for most of the city drainage channels, they are engaging development partners to finance the implementation phase.