We all want a smart City, but what kind of ‘cityzens’ 

View of Kampala City at Night PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • You demand for good roads when as a boda boda rider, you won’t butt an eyelid to ride menacingly with your ‘stand’ rubbing by the tarmac surface leaving sparks of fire in your wake-to the amusement of onlookers! as Simon Peter Kasyate writes .

Iam always fascinated by those Latin phrases lawyers love to throw around for example, in flagrante delicto sounds musical and comical wrapped with a pink ribbon on it! Then there is Locus standi – which from a quick Google search simply means a right to appear in a court or before anybody on a given question: a right to be heard. For purposes of today’s discourse, let’s consider Locus standi to mean a right to be heard. 

I recently wrote about the cry and hue over the state of City roads from not just Kampala’s ‘Cityzens’, but visitors and transit commuters among others. I shared the remedies in the pipeline and in the same article also enumerated some of the roads in the city that are, without a doubt ‘world class’. No doubt, all of us have the Locus standi to question what the Kampala Capital City Authority, mandated to manage our city on behalf of Government is doing. We all have the Locus standi to question what the Authority is doing to curb pollution of every kind, not least environmental degradation and noise! We have the Locus standi to question if indeed the mushrooming buildings in their various shapes and sizes get the requisite approvals and their construction are routinely supervised-by KCCA. We have the Locus standi to question why city roads are named as is, why enforcement should use brute force more like ‘a hammer to kill a fly’. This is our city, our capital city and it’s in everyone’s right to demand that it is managed and governed well, even perhaps better than our expectations.

We know, again from a maxim in law, that the enjoyment of one’s right should not be at the expense of another’s right. That’s why there is freedom of movement but a law on trespass. There is freedom of speech and expression but laws on slander and libel! Meaning that freedom is NOT absolute. With every right comes a set of responsibility in its enjoyment.

Now let’s get down to our beautiful city Kampala can we start asking ourselves what right we have as city-zens to vandalize installations such as manhole covers, street lights, road pavements, green spaces and the like? Take for example along the beautifully designed and built John Babiiha road in the upscale neighbourhood of kololo. Dual lane, signalized junctions, pedestrian walkways, manicured side road lawns and road cabs not to mention service ducts for utility service provides like internet and others. We have all passed there on a Friday night and seen how revelers of the several bars along that road pack on the pavements and pedestrian walkways as well as on the well-manicured lawns. You park your beautiful car- on the walkways and in so doing breaking road cabs, destroying the aesthetics of the lawns as you make your way to a much deserved evening drink and later as you exit, happily inebriated, knocking down some traffic light stands and other installations. Next morning, you are yelling yourself hoarse on social media “KCCA give us good roads for our cars’! Where is your Locus standi?
Talking about bars, not just along the above street but many scattered all over the city, blasting away a noisy excuse for music all night long with reckless abandon to the chagrin of neighbors that have a right to a peaceful night’s sleep! You should hear these bar owners demanding a better City; and you want to ask, what right do you have?

Let’s go back to the roads-we have seen fruit and vegetable markets spring up on these roads! Yes, on roads! If in doubt, visit that cross junction near Bahai and Kampala Quality Primary school along the newly refurbished Komamboga road. Whole sections of pedestrian walkways are blocked by so called industrious Cityzens who have erected makeshift (permanent ) fruit markets. Some even pack what used to be pickup trucks now most aptly described as scrap for stalls!

You demand for good roads when as a boda boda rider, you won’t butt an eyelid to ride menacingly with your ‘stand’ rubbing by the tarmac surface leaving sparks of fire in your wake-to the amusement of onlookers! What of our dear Government VIPs whose escort vehicles find no problem parking on road islands-like that along Nile Avenue on the backside of the Parliamentary building? On the walkways along parliamentary avenue, sections have been cordoned off mbu for security of our legislators and the little space of walkway for ordinary folks to walk on are permanently occupied with Government plated vehicles parked there! Whatever happed to leading by example?

You litter all over, dump garbage in trenches, build in wetlands, erect low grade billboards wherever, pour waste water along public roads, beat traffic lights etc and then in the same latitude demand for better services from the City Authority. What is your Locus standi? Whenever I have asked these questions, I have not been spared the barrage of ‘it’s the problem of KCCA for NOT enforcing appropriately’. This is partly correct. And when KCCA enforcement swings in, the same cry and hue comes and all ye cityzens turn into overnight advocates of human rights! 

Surely, if you are the kind of City-zens than needs to be policed not to park on pavements, not to urinate and defecate (eeeuuu) on the roadside, not to dump garbage and refuse in public spaces; not to make noise for thy neighbor and worse; let’s be frank – this city does not deserve you!
A smart City, as KCCA has repeatedly said it is building, cannot be built without you playing your part! Don’t clamour for a first world city when your mannerisms are worse than 3rd world! So while KCCA remains with a lot to do in delivering unto each one of us that vibrant, attractive and sustainable Kampala, where we are all happy and proud top live and work; we as cityzens have our work too clearly cut out. It is the sum of the collective individual ‘good manners’ that translate into the culture and actuation of a Smart City; not sloganeering and Enforcement! Let’s live urban and pass on these traits to our children.