Two years ago, Richard Magombe, a boda boda motorcyclist was living in a two-roomed house in Kyanja, a Kampala suburb. He was paying Shs25,000 a month for rent. “There were not very many people using this road. It was so dusty during the dry season that customers did not like to sit on our motorcycles because by the time they reached their destinations, their clothes would be dirty,” Magombe reminisces.
That has changed. Last year, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) completed and unveiled Bukoto-Kisaasi Road in Kisaasi, a city suburb. The 3km stretch is tarmacked and has newly installed street lights. “Life in this place and the neighbouring areas has never been the same!” Magombe exclaims when asked whether the completion of the road has in any way impacted on the lives of the people.
“My rent was increased to Shs50,000 per month and because I want to live in a good environment, I decided not to leave the house,” he added. He is not the only one facing an increment in rent. “My land lady told me that if I do not want to pay Shs80,000 (from Shs50,000), I should leave because other people would come and occupy it. I eventually had to shift to Kikaaya,” Samuel Kambale another boda boda cyclist says.
Also, Brian Kabene, a mini-super market proprietor says, his rent rose from Shs300,000 to Shs400,000 a month.
Samuel Lukyamuzi, a house broker in the Kisaasi area explains that rent prices had to shoot up due to the development in the area.
Rent cost shoots up
“What determines the increase in prices of houses is always development. Conditions such as new roads are important and that is what is what we have here,” Lukyamuzi said. He adds, “In the past, people used to fear living around this area because of dust and inaccessibility but all that is solved and we are having an increased demand in houses for rent; that is what is making the prices go up.”
Lukyamuzi says, that single rooms go for Shs100,000, a basic two bedroomed house goes for at least Shs200,000 while fenced houses go for at least Shs800,000. In the past, the houses went for Shs60,000, Shs180,000 and Shs500,000 respectively.
The Bukoto-Kisaasi Road is a joinder to Ntinda, Bukoto, Kyanja and Old Kira Road.
Also, people going to Gayaza use the road via Kyebando. Since it is one of the smoothest roads in the area, it has attracted a lot of traffic since completion.
With fully functional traffic lights from the junction that comes off Kyanja Road, traffic and roadside business have increased in the area giving it the brighter and organised look of a budding budding.
For the first 100 metres off Kyanja Road where the construction of the road starts, there are at least three new beauty shops, a boutique, supermarket, new carpentry shop, a washing bay and several new kiosks dealing in refreshments.
“I could not have put a boutique here in the past. By midday, the clothes would already be filled with dust coming off the road and I think even you ([as a customer)cannot buy a dirty cloth from a shop,” Shamira Buyinza of Gets boutique said. “Now, the clothes are always clean and they attract customers because they are clean throughout day.
“I always leave at 10pm because I always expect that a person could see an interesting dress as they drive back home and they can drop by and get it. In the past, we used to leave this shop at 7pm because it was always dark by that time and it was not as secure as it is today,” she says.
Not only have the number of businesses increased, but also the working hours of the people in the businesses due to an instilled sense of security along the road. Isma Kizito, a sand dealer says, “By this time [7.30pm], we would have gone home already but today we even leave this place at midnight, times have really changed and we are so thankful to [Jennifer] Musisi.” He adds, “Customers can come in at any time, some buy the sand as they go back home and we don’t want to miss them, so we keep around.”
Kambale who leaves at the Kikaya end of the road attributes the traffic flow to the accessibility of the road to different areas. “This is the shortest route to Ntinda if you are coming from areas like Kisaasi because it does not take you more than 20 minutes to get there. In the past, it could take long because of the dust,” he noted.
Peter Kaujju, the KCCA spokesperson said, the Bukoto-Kisaasi Road on advice of the city transport improvement master plan was chosen among those that were to be constructed in a project funded by the World Bank.
“They looked at the conditions of several roads in the city and discovered that it was one of the roads in dire need according to the parametres which are set by the board,” Kaujju said.
Among the parametres is the number of people that could access the road and the burden that the road can lay off the users by using it as a short cut to access different areas of the country after completion. However, though there are fully functional street lights, booming businesses in shopping malls and kiosks by the roadside, many residents insist that security in the area is lacking.
“The areas where the lights have been installed are not the priority areas, there is a lot of theft in Kulambiro, Kyanja and many other places. KCCA should help us fix that first, now that we have a road,” Benjamin Ssemuwemba, a resident said. He was commenting on theft of a motorcycle in which the rider was allegedly hit by a hammer before his automobile was taken.
This area in the northern part of Kampala remains one of the most crime vulnerable places in the city.
Sting operations mounted by Police have netted over 200 people although the residents say, the swoops are not targeting criminals.
Also, a stroll through the road reveals that despite the tremendous work that has been put to modify the road, there are no walkways by the side which forces several pedestrians to compete with automobiles for space on the road.