Lwengo- Kyazanga Town Council, located on the Masaka/ Mbarara highway, is struggling to provide social services to its rapidly growing population.
According to the town council chairperson, Mr Abdul Rashid Mulindwa, the official population figure is 13,000 as given by the 2002 census. He, however, says: “Today we believe that the population is well over 40,000 and we are not even quite sure of how many households we are supposed to provide social services to since we don’t have current official figures.”
The town is facing a water shortage crisis. A facility in Nakateete Ward, which was commissioned four years ago, cannot provide enough water for the residents of the town.
This has compelled the town authorities to ration piped water, which is given to the wards in phases. Each ward receives piped water for a day while others are cut off.
A 20-litre jerrycan of water from the public water system costs Shs300. Vendors, who get water from Kyazanga Dam, a few kilometres away from the town, sell a 20-litre jerrycan at between Shs500 to Shs700.
The town is also facing shortage of public toilets. The town clerk, Mr Badru Mayanja, attributes the absence of public toilet facilities to lack of organised administration among the people who first settled in the place.
“Everyone planned for their personal buildings and they never imagined that the place would grow into the commercial centre it has become today,” he says.
Mr Mayanja says most parts of the commercial centre are in a valley where rain water collects during the rainy season, making it difficult to construct and maintain pit-latrines.
“The soil composition does not favour pit-latrine construction. Some of the buildings and actually many latrines, get submerged in rainwater during the wet season,” he says.
He adds that the town authority does not have funds to construct suitable type of toilets.
Due to shortage of public toilets, some people have restored to easing themselves behind buildings and by the roadsides.
This has caused concern of a possible outbreak of diseases such as cholera and typhoid. The town seems to have only one public toilet facility in Central Ward.
The town also faces a water drainage problem. During the rainy season, there is a lot of stagnant water almost everywhere between buildings and behind them, which facilitates breeding of disease-spreading mosquitos.
The town’s rapid population growth has come with urban evils such as prostitution and drug abuse.
The Lwengo District chairperson, Mr George Mutabaazi, has often called for increased police vigilance to trading in and abuse of drugs such as marijuana, especially in the Central Ward.
Commercial sex workers are often seen in the evening around drinking joints. They often give the impression of being bar clients and seep slowly at their drinks as they wait to begin a conversation with a prospective clients.
Mr Mayanja is of the view that the whole town should be redesigned by perhaps the Local Government buying all the land from the present private owners and have the entire town planned anew.
Mr Mulindwa wants the Ministry of Health to help with the construction of public toilets. He said the town, whose annual budget is about Shs500 million, cannot afford to construct the recommended eco-sun public toilets.
But he is optimistic that most of the challenges facing Kyazanga Town are the problems of a young town which are by no means insurmountable.
Growth of Kyazanga Town
Kyazanga’s commercial development is said to have started with a small cluster of roadside shops a few years after Uganda’s Independence.
Kyazanga is a name of a town as well as the entire area stretching tens of square miles around the town. It is impossible to talk exhaustively about the town without talking about its neighborhood.
Origin of name
The name Kyazanga is said to have stemmed from the area’s initial failure to sustain cattle keeping due to its chronic water shortage.
Pastoralists from Ankole region would drive their cattle there lured by the presence of green nutritious grass in the rainy season only to recede later after realising that the area lacked water to sustain the cows.
They called the place Kyazanga which in Runyankole means: “It has rejected them--the cattle.”
The colonial government constructed Kyazanga Dam, which taps rainwater and keeps it throughout the year, and it is that dam that made Kyazanga more habitable to the cattle keepers who later diverted their farming activities to include crop production.
The people are of mixed tribe --- Baganda, Banyankole, Bakiga and Banyarwanda. They grow bananas, Irish potatoes, maize, beans, onions, cabbages, and ground nuts, among other crops which they take to Kyazanga Town, where traders from Juba, Kampala, and other towns buy them, especially on Thursday, the main market day.
Most analysts attribute the town’s growth to the presence of the highway that passes through it and the market.
When the farmers sell their produce in the market, they get money to spend and so some people have set up shops over the years to sell to the farmers the items that they need. Some entrepreneurs have put up bars, lodges, and restaurants.
Some of the traders have to spend the night in the town and they need comfortable accommodation.
Nowadays, heavy commercial vehicles carrying merchandise to Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC stop over for the night, which has invited more investment in the hospitality industry --lodges and guest houses. Today Jovia Hotel, a little upon the hill and away from the main road, is the town’s largest hotel.
Kyazanga is the birth place of prominent people such as Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, and Kyaddondo East MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda. It is represented in parliament by Mr Abdu Kitatta (Bukoto West), who replaced Mr Mulindwa Bilimumaaso, now a hotelier in Kalangala District and presidential adviser.