Kampala’s Finest Potholes
By Paul Ndiho
December 14, 2010
In Kampala, Uganda, traffic can be bad – and the roads can be worse. The city suffers not only from bad traffic jams, but potholes make the going difficult, even when the traffic is fine.
Residents of Kampala have protested against the state of the roads by going fishing in potholes and others pretended to be fishmongers, selling their “catch” from the water-filled potholes. The protesters say the poor state of roads in the capital causes accidents and traffic jams. Kampala resident David Odele says that politicians are using money meant for roads for personal gain.
“They are not using money on roads, they are not making good use of the roads, they are just making roads in their pockets and as we talk, i cannot fail to mention the president himself. He talks of roads, but the roads he talks of… Since 1996, I was in primary, I was a kid but up to date, those roads are being campaigned each and every year, each and every year.”
Protesters say that the state of the roads in Kampala is so bad that the city has been nicknamed ‘Kampothole’. And residents are photographing some of the city’s most spectacular road problems, which are on display at an exhibition called ”Kampala’s finest potholes.”
“We came as members of the private sector after being affected by this problem for a while, and we realized that our leaders were not doing what we expected them to do, I mean promising every other time that they are going to fix this potholes once and for all, but we realize after every other elections they tell us the same story, promises and more promises”
John Nasasira is Uganda’s long serving Minster of Works and Transportation, and is arguably one of Uganda’s most powerful politicians and richest men. His critics say he has used tax payer money meant for roads for personal gain. Nasasira denies the allegation, saying that he does not have jurisdiction over Kampala’s roads. But he assures the protestors that Uganda National Roads Authority, or UNRA, will take over all the maintenance of roads in Kampala next year.
“We will eventually take over Kampala city as central government and the ministry of works together with UNRA, will take over the roads, we will establish a complete unit that will that will deal with Kampala roads under the Uganda roads development.”
Kampala residents question whether the latest move by the government to take over Kampala’s road maintenance will produce results. In the meantime, they will keep trying to negotiate the city’s numerous potholes and budgeting for the maintenance costs of their vehicles.