SFC is not the solution

What you need to know:

  • The quality of road construction is so poor that potholes emerge shortly after commissioning. Maybe, the only way that SFC can fix the glaring potholes is by bombing them into disappearance.

Abraham Maslow was right when he observed that it is tempting to have a hammer as the only tool because every problem would be treated as a nail. Today, Kampala is treated as such by those whose perspectives with all due respect,  consider it to be a nail.

This set of approaches to the current Kampala problems or the Kampala Problem is a false start which will inevitably fail.

These approaches  do not address the failing leadership of the city nor do they offer any form of organized transformation. They also do not disrupt the status quo but rather create  pseudo-hope for a better Kampala.

I will restrain myself from the politics surrounding the potholes, but I will not spare the political actors.

Capital cities are national symbols. They  are the first marketing places for the unique things about a certain country. Kampala is a city full of life, but also excruciating pain in equal measure. Kampala is not at peace.

The residents are  not sure if a downpour will wash them away on foot or if they will be carried away in their cars and on bikes. The cost of car maintenance is over the roof. “Kampala Mu kooti” by Paulo Kafeero speaks to the sad state of affairs of the present day Kampala.  

First, political actors thought in their wisdom that the KCC law and the leadership structure of the time were the problem(s)-nail. The hammer solution then was the establishment of the Kampala Capital  City Authority  under the office of the President by virtue of the KCCA Act of 2010.  

The KCCA Act has undergone several amendments but with no tangible progress to show for it. We have a Capital City Authority that cannot fix potholes! It looks like, “Authority” remains on paper. With the emergence of a rear hammer - The Special Forces Command (SFC), it might become one of the  fully-fledged directorates of KCCA. Uganda Zaabu!

KCCA collected Shs93.24 billion in revenue in the financial year 2021/22. It has a Directorate of Engineering and Technical Services. With all that, they have failed to fix the roads in Kampala.

The quality of road construction is so poor that potholes emerge shortly after commissioning. Maybe, the only way that SFC can fix the glaring potholes is by bombing them into disappearance.

Ugandans and generally residents of Kampala have found solace in humour. We have been overwhelmed to a point that we express our pain through jokes. For example,we have realised that we do not go to spas to get massaged when we have potholes that can offer the service at no direct cost.

The saviour with a hammer, SFC, showed up for a tour after a hilarious exhibition of the potholes. The government threw Shs6 billion during the exhibition to have the shameful holes filled. But we don’t know what happened.

The potholes persisted. A few days ago, the SFC showed up for the second time after securing Shs2 billion and a contract to work on the roads but to our dismay, they are going to focus on the roads in the Central Business District (CBD). 

This is as good as scratching a stubborn blackhead instead of having a full facial treatment. The legal issues surrounding the circumstances under which the contract was secured by SFC from KCCA are another matter altogether.  

Also, note that this time round it is not the UPDF Engineering Brigade. At least, we were starting to get accustomed to the UPDF Engineering Brigade. Ladies and Gentlemen, we now have the SFC. 

This tells the harsh reality that the collapse of institutions has been superintended over by the very people who turn around and act as saviours or offer themselves as the solutions. This also extends into the wider problem of abuse of national institutions which have  properly defined constitutional duties. We are experiencing the militarization of public service.

We might not be too concerned about who leads the struggle to fix the current annoying maps of potholes but the devil is in the details.  

What happens to the drainage systems? This is not within the scope of the work of SFC. What happens to the physical planning where approvals are given to people who destroy water catchment areas? What about the indiscipline of littering? 

Militarization of  institutions is a sign of military dictatorship. This is a dangerous trend. It is now a public secret that the militarization of ministries, departments or programs has not necessarily succeeded, for example,  NAADS. 

The  militarization of public and civil service institutions is not sustainable.  We should let institutions operate, appoint competent people and restrict the army to their constitutionally mandated duties. We must intentionally demilitarize institutions. We must deal with root causes, not the symptoms. 

By far, the top leadership of the country is guilty for  the multiple organ failures of institutions like KCCA.  SFC fixing potholes in the CBD is no solution. To solve a problem, you must know it first. 

In this case, the hammer-SFC is misplaced, misapplied and mistaken. It cannot offer any meaningful and sustainable solutions because Kampala is not a nail.. 

Mr Ivan Bwowe, [email protected]