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a new thread that talks about housing in uganda and what suburb are good or bad to live in.

Gulu back on its feet
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One of the many buildings sprouting all over Gulu town.
By Titus Kakembo

SINCE the guns of war went silent, every Gulu visitor is shocked by the construction work, booming business and serene atmosphere in this northern town of Uganda.

Relocating back home may be the catch phrase there but entrepreneurs have pitched camp. It is a five-hour drive from the capital, Kampala. Alternatively you can catch a 45-minute flight from Entebbe.

Forget the dollar prices for rent in Kampala. Here you talk shillings and a bedsit will cost about sh180,000 while the two-roomed goes for about sh350,000. A bungalow is priced at between sh800,000 and sh2m. It all depends on location and your ability to haggle.

A 50x100m piece of land in the town centre is available at between sh25m and sh40m. Malls and high rise buildings are catching on in Gulu.

Ugandans in the Diaspora are building plush cottages and residential houses.

Just name it and it is here. Bank of Uganda, Crane Bank and Centenary Bank, Gulu University and there is the presidential aspirant and son of the soil, DP presidential candidate Norbert Mao, who is also the former LC5.

Being endowed with an airstrip, Gulu is an ideal home, especially as legendary Lacor Hospital and Layibi College are regaining their past glory.

According to John Okello, a commission agent: “Gulu University offers unexploited money generating opportunities with the craze for hostel space for students just like in Kampala.”

There are three commercial plots directly opposite Gulu University in a prime location in Laroo division of Gulu Municipality. Okello predicts that if Southern Sudan gets independence, there will be greater expectations in trade and education.

Culturally conservative, the Acholi culture remains visibly and audibly firm.

NGOs keep the streets busy with their motor vehicles destined for villages to boost farm production. Inspite of loss of property and life, Gulu is once again turning into a food basket for the rest of Uganda and neighbouring Southern Sudan.

Residents in the urban areas are renting gardens and cropping them with beans, lapena (green lentils), sim sim, sunflowers. Traders from Southern Sudan storm villages scouting for these gardens.

Just like any other town, shops are stocked with locally manufactured goods, imported clothes from China, foot wear and food. Areas that were no-go zones during the infamous LRA are selling.

Come dusk and you will not miss the pubs, a favourite destination for night life revellers.

Patrons flaunt “goodies” in hot pants, mini skirts and brief tops. The place fills with pretty girls sipping from their glasses, their male companions competitively guzzling beer from bottles as if it were going out of fashion. The crowds jig on the miniature dance floor.

Another popular destination is the Ethiopian Restaurant where adventurous diners enjoy coffee and Njera dishes.

Rugby and the Premier League are seldom talked about. Larakaraka (royal dance), a preserve for big events, is in stiff competition with the European “head-banging” dance style. Revellers move backwards and hit an imaginary item with their foreheads. It is a dance style reserved for music lovers. Like break dance, the more beer one swallows, the easier it becomes to adapt.

The highbrow diners and winners patronise Acholi Inn which is more serene with jazz music sizzling out of speakers as the moon peeps out of the grey sky.

Downtown Olya Road teams with a bevy of pubs patronised by sports lovers, scrabble fans, darts players and lonely hearts. Abola La’pok Restaurant is renowned for affordable accommodation, generous portions of pork roast and millet bread.

When are you paying Gulu a visit?

Oil stirs up business in Hoima
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Traders and taxi operators waiting for customers in Hoima Taxi Park, and some of the new buildings (background)
By Pascal Kwesiga

THE price for land and house rent in Hoima and Buliisa districts has more than trippled in the past six years. The development is attributed to the increasing number of people attracted by the discovery oil in the area.

According to residents, a lot of rich people are flocking the area to buy land in anticipation of a business boom in the near future.

The price of a 100mx50m plot in Hoima town now costs between sh250m and sh500m. Before the discovery of oil in 2004, such a plot was less than sh100m.

Grace Baguma, the director of B&K Estates Agency, says the price of commercial plots (100x100 metres) has risen to sh50m, from between sh10m to sh20m in the posh suburbs of Kijungu, Bujumbura and Lusaka. A standard plot of 100x50 metres costs between sh25m to sh30m, from sh15m.

In Kiryatete, Duhaga, Kinubu and Kyarwabuyamba, which are on the outskirts of the town, the price of a standard plot has gone up from sh2m to sh5m.

Buguma says a commercial building is between sh700m to sh1 trillion, up from sh150m, depending on the level of economic activity and development in the area. A residential house is between sh150m-sh300m, from about sh45m in Kijungu and Bujumbura.

To rent a single room on a commercial building in the town centre, one parts with sh1.5m to sh2.5m, from sh800,000 per year.

Moses Kaahwa, the director of Hoima Real Estates Agency, says the number of people looking for land in Busisi, Kibati and Kyarwabuyamba, where people didn’t want to buy land in the past years, has gone up drastically.

“People are now buying land even in areas where I didn’t expect them to put up houses in the near future,” Kaahwa says.

He adds that land on the shores of Lake Albert is between sh2m to sh5m per acre. The increase in population has also led to increased demand for food.

A resident with businesses in Kampala and Hoima observed that food and accommodation in Hoima were more expensive than Kampala.

George Bagonza, the district chairman, has on several occasions advised the people in Hoima to grow food crops on a large scale to tap into the increasing market.

There is also a boom in the transport sector. Many roads have been opened up by oil companies to link Hoima town to the landing sites on Lake Albert and other remote villages.

However, the rise in the prices of land, food and rent has hit-hard the low-income earners. Gerald Murungi, a taxi conductor on the Hoima-Kigorobya stage, says this will push many of the low-income earners like him out of the town. “To rent a single room in a slum was sh10,000 per month in 2006, but now it is sh20,000,” he says.

Murungi is, however, happy that the surging population has boasted the transport sector.

For the first time, there are taxis that commute from the town to various fishing villages in the district on a daily basis.

“The number of people travelling on the Hoima-Kaiso-Tonya and Hoima-Buliisa roads has increased. There were not taxis on Hoima-Kaiso-Tonya in the past, but today we have many of them and business is booming,” he adds.

Bagonza says that the oil discovery has made the once inaccessible areas on Lake Albert accessible since various roads have been opened up by the oil companies.

“People can now easily transport the fish products from the lake to the processing factories in Hoima and Kampala,” he says.

Oil and development: The changing face of Hoima
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Construction of commercial buidings in the city centre is booming and people are settling in to benefit trom the oil
By Thomas Pere

A VACANT tract of land lies between the welcoming town council sign and the town centre.One can think Hoima town is still a distance away. The discovery of petroleum in the district, a few years ago, brought Hoima to fame.

The town is now a centre of diverse activities, such as construction, especially in residential areas. Newly painted buildings, unfinished roof tops and growing gardens are common.

“Unlike most towns and cities where the settlement pattern starts with low-class housing and transforms into suburbs, Hoima town is different,” Allan Mubiru, a visitor to the district says.

The town centre is dominant with non-storied commercial buildings, although some storied buildings have cropped up.

“These buildings are not more than five years old. They have replaced the houses that got burnt.,” William Isingoma, a resident says.

He adds that since the discovery of petroleum in the district, there is a change. The prices of land have shot up due to high demand. People have moved from all over the country and settled in the district in order to benefit from the from oil,” Isingoma says.

He says there are four main residential areas in Hoima which include Kijungu, Bwikia and Bujumbura, domainated by the middle class. Surprisingly, there are hardly any slums except Kiriatete village where many low-income dwellers reside, Isigoma says.

However, with the onset of the oil industry, it is feared large scale slums might rise.

At the periphery of the central business district, there are visible signs the town is expanding. The residential areas are still growing.Many of the structures are typical of the district standards. Few isolated residential properties can march the standards of Kampala.

Boneventure Kiiza, the acting municipal engineer of Hoima district, says getting a vacant plot in the town is difficult. Instead, it is plots with buildings in them that are available. However, vacant plots are still available in the residential areas, although expensive, costing over sh5m for a 50ft x 100ft plot and sh60m for a 60ftx100ft plot in the town centre, he says.

Since the town council which used to be 20-50sq kilometres became a municipality, its size has expanded. The population has risen from 36,000 to about 101,000. The road network also expanded from 114km to over 220 km, although many of the roads are in a pathetic condition.

The road to Kampala is the only tarmacked one, but also in a worrying state. Since the discovery of oil, many organisations have come up. They are doing consultancy on land and creating awareness.

The residents hope their land will appreciate and have started investing in it, Kizza says. Building materials like sand and bricks are available in haredware shops.

A three tonne truck of sand costs between sh70,000 and sh90,000 and that of aggregate between sh100,000 and sh120,000. A brick costs between sh80 and sh100.

The rates for commercial shops range between sh70,000 and sh150,000, depending on the location, while for lockups, the range is between sh70,000 and sh100,000 per month.

For residential property, the price for two roomed houses range between sh70, 000 and 150,000. Self-contained double rooms range between sh200,000 and sh250,000.

Among the residential areas, Kijungu is the most affluent. and was well planned roads networks.

Kiiza says the biggest challenge is unplanned development and poor infrastructure.
There is limited supply of electricity, but we hope there will be more power with the completion of Seruka dam, says Kiiza.

Ten years to come, there will be significant change in Hoima. This will start with the forthcoming urban infrastructure development project by the Government commencing in 2012.

Entebbe: From political seat to high-class lakeside town
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This recreational garden in Entebbe stands in place of a former market. Below, one of the structures coming up in the town
BY TITUS KAKEMBO

Oral literature has it that, the place earned its name from the Luganda word “ntebe” (chair). This was where, during the pre-colonial times, the office (seat) of the chief in Buganda who adjudicated in legal matters of the inhabitants, was found.

Later on, Sir Gerald Portal, one of the earliest British colonial commissioners in Uganda, used the area to conduct administrative business. Entebbe was the hub of political and economic activity.

So many years later, the political activity has moved to Kampala, leaving Entebbe, a peninsula on Lake Victoria, calm and laid back.

Steven Erute, an insurer who has just relocated there, has only praises to sing of his new locale.

“There is something I find irresistible about Entebbe. We all know each other and converge at Four Turkeys, Cassava Republic the various beaches on weekends to socialise,” he says.

Robert Kiboli has different reasons for living in Entebbe. “The serenity here irresistible. I love Entebbe for the cool breeze, sunny days, the birds and fish, but most of all, it gives a child the right atmosphere to grow up in.”

Nkumba Business College was upgraded to a University so Jackson Oboth says living in Entebbe has given him a chance to work and study at the same time.

“It is a melting pot of cultures. We always have traditional wedding ceremonies of the Acholi, Bagishu, Japadhola and Batoro in the area,” says Phillip Corry who grew up there. “You can spot an Entebbe resident a mile away. They are often polite people and have strong religious ties. If one stays long enough in Entebbe, the locals get to know and recognise him/her as family.”

Some elegant colonial era Elizabethan Architecture that used to house colonial masters is still in place, with large compounds. Some structures have been mowed down and replaced with new structures but the tree lined avenues remain. Lately, the traditional profile of Entebbe residents is changing from strictly civil servants to include the private sector.

There are accountants, pilots, vet doctors, aviation engineers, lecturers and working holiday travellers.

As the town battles to reassert its supremacy, its strategic position connecting Uganda to the outside world, by air and marine, is attracting an exodus of property developers, residents and buyers.

“A plot of land measuring between 50mx100m here goes for sh15m,” says Glades Namuto, a new settler in Nakiwogo. “But land prices depend on one’s haggling skills.”

Downtown in Kitoro, a supermarket notice board announces a three square mile Busi Island at $2,800 per acre. A plush bungalow is tagged $2000.

Tirupati Property Developer has put up an estate in Nkumba, complete with a shopping center, entertainment facilities and playgrounds.

The lender friendly policies in banking institutions are enabling residents to secure loans and mortgages to either buy or develop their property.

Most of the places by the shores have been developed but some unscrupulous developers have descended upon church and Uganda Prisons land. Kitoro and Kiyarwanda slums ,which used to be filled with shanty homesteads accommodating casual labourers, have been replaced by big hotels, plush wall fenced residential houses and worship centres.

Things to do in Entebbe
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Entebbe is an ideal place to have nature walks, bird watching and water sporting expeditions. The town has a few curio shops for travelers to buy mementos.
It boasts of the Uganda Wildlife Education Center in addition and the National Botanical Gardens which date back to 1898.
Bird watchers frequent the gardens because they are a bird sanctuary.

Historical highlights . . .
Queen Elizabeth II departed Africa from Entebbe, to return to England in 1952 after learning of her father’s death.

In the 1970s, Entebbe International Airport hit headlines during Operation Thunderbolt. This is when 100 hostages were rescued from Entebbe on board an aeroplane highjacked by Palestinians. The scars left behind are still visible at the Old Airport
 

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The transforming face of Luzira
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TO LET: Entrepreneurs have resorted to constructing houses
BY TITUS KAKEMBO

Due to the swelling population in Kampala City, suburbs like Luzira, Mutungo and Kitintale have become a favourable residential area. “A house goes for between sh350,000 and sh1.8m,” says Fred Nansera, a broker in Mutungo. “A plot of land close to the lakeshore is hard to acquire, but it costs between sh42m and sh300m.”

Rent for a bedsitter in Kitintale is about sh60,000 for a bedsitter, while a three-bedroom house goes for about sh300,000. In the recent past, the cost of a 100mX50m piece of land increased from sh5m to between sh25m and sh50m.

Located on a hill jutting outwards on the north-eastern shores of Lake Victoria, Luzira is stunning. The price of a house costs between $100,000 (about sh230m ) and $500,000 (about sh1.15b). Given a scenic view, as a result of its proximity to the lakeshores, property developers and residents treasure this area. Many a tenant there, end up acquiring land and constructing houses. Reserve swamps, too have been encroached on by brick bakers, yam farmers, mat weavers, washing bays and illegal settlers.

However, till recently, this area was unpopular. It was earlier rendered infamous because of its proximity to Luzira Maximum Prison. The other reason being its proximity to the mental and psychiatry hospital, Butabika Hospital.

This history of Luzira remains checkered. It was once the place where the Idi Amin regime’s State Research Bureau committed atrocities that are well documented in the book, State of Blood by Ugandan author Henry Kyemba.

Today, developers are constructing plush apartments, mansions and bed-sits. Consequently, the Luzira landscape is being transformed with high rise structures replacing the mud and wattle ones which used to dominate the area.

Other services like private schools, health centres and supermarkets are making the place more habitable. The Uganda Investment Authority was given 62 acres of land by the Government. The land, which was previously used as prison gardens has been transformed into an industrial park.

With the nose for business, property developers like Mukwano, Tirupati and Palm Springs have joined the construction fray and put up numerous housing estates in Luzira. Kampala City Council (KCC) has made the place more accessible by constructing more roads and private garbage collectors help keep the area clean.

KCC public relations officer, Simon Muhumuza says, “The connecting roads have been upgraded and tarmacked and reliable water runways established. The onus is on local leaders to ensure that the gutters are not littered with rubbish.”

Commuter vehicles and bodabodas operate from the city centre to Luzira around the clock. The fare ranges from sh1,000 to sh30,000, depending on the time and the mode of transport.

The challenge for KCC and the local authorities is to keep the gutters free from polythene bags, halt the rearing of livestock and Butabika Hospital keeping the mentally disturbed patients under lock and key.

To cater for the booming residential population, entrepreneurs are putting up pubs, restaurants and supermarkets. These comprise joints like Comfort Zone, Country Club, Silver Springs, Archery Club, Lake View Pub and Miami Beach. There are also a number of churches in Luzira and the surrounding areas.
 

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Muyenga, the rich man’s slum
Friday, 28th January, 2011
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One of the neighbourhoods in Muyenga. The area has seen two bomb explosions in the past, the most recent one being in July last year
By Titus Kakembo

ONE elegant house obstructs the neighbour’s view of the blue waters of Lake Victoria. There is a hotel here, a bar there and miniature shops and other residential houses. Welcome to Muyenga Hill.

It has been baptised the “Rich Man’s slum” by some probably because of the nameless lanes leading to individual homes, burglar proof gates without plot numbers or mad crowds in the Kabalagala neighbourhood. Every lane here is named after a developer’s preference.

But one Muyenga resident John Kayira brags, “Name any big shot like Bonny Katatumba, former minister Paul Etyang, the Katikiro engineer J.B Walusimbi and Muyenga is their home. We hit a high profile when former President Godfrey Binaisa joined us after returning from exile.”

Privacy is treasured here. To see what is behind the concrete wall fences, one needs to ride in either a double storied bus or use a ladder and peep into the compound.

Muyenga residents meet in hotels, church services and during District Rotary Club meetings. The profile of residents has since changed from being dominated by diplomats, NGO staff and Europeans to include moneyed Ugandans.

The price of land varies depending on its location, size and neighbourhood. Within a walking distance is the Kikuba Mutwe slum, Kibuli and Bukasa.

Renting a double bedroom house in Muyenga costs between sh300,000-sh800,0000; a bungalow is tagged at either sh1.2m to sh2m it all depends on location.

Pay sh500m and a six-bedroom flat with four bathrooms is yours. There is another unit on the market with four bedrooms available at $1000 per month payable strictly in American dollars. Advertisements are visible in supermarket notice boards, search engines and briefcase brokers. It is a common requirement for land lords to demand for rent of three months in advance, there after, the client begins paying monthly.

Why Muyenga is a great location
It is close to KIU, Kampala International Hospital and Green Hill Primary School. School buses shuttle pupils to Aga Khan, Lincoln Abraham and Kabira International Schools daily. Public taxis ply the route 24/7 for sh500-sh800 and cabs do it for sh10,000-sh20,000 from the city centre.

Muyenga is a few minutes’ drive to Ggaba Beach or Muyonyo where one can go for a fish and chips treat.

Yasin Omar, a local leader of Muyenga Hill Zone in Bukasa Parish says Muyenga is one of the few places in Uganda where the community policing security concept in operation.

“It has contained crime in the area recently,” says Omar. “This is how the neighbourhood can ensure that people are not waylaid and girls are not raped or kidnapped in our midst. That is how our residents can sleep soundly without any disturbances from thugs residing in neighbouring slums of Soweto, Kanyogoga and Katongole.”

Many residents complained about the tremours caused by the stone quarry, flying stones and noise from mobile advertisers. The area’s proximity to Kabalagala, the red light district of Kampala, leaves many a spouse or parent wary of temptations.

Telex Bar was the place went to get news before Uganda had a vibrant media. Gossip was telefaxed from Kenya or abroad and that was the reception centre. Talk has it that former vice president Paulo Muwanga used to patronise the joint. Consequently, the cops could not touch the entrepreneur, because of her relationship with him.

One Valentine’s Day, a bomb exploded at Telex Bar and many people lost limbs. July last year saw a similar tragedy in the area when the Al-Shabab detonated a bomb at Ethiopian Restaurant. Many Muyenga residents heard it loud and clear and remember the sound clearly.

Oldsters in the city say Muyenga was remote in the mid 1980s. The place worth writing home about then was the Hotel Diplomat where tourists and locals loved to see the sun go to sleep and the yellow moon rise.

Today the night life kicks off in low key at 6:00pm. The bars are awash with people, new friendships are made and old ones are stoked.

CEOs who patronise the different pubs in the area throw their three piece suits in the back of their 4WD top-of-the-range cars before sauntering in.

The smoke begins curling up from open charcoal ovens as roadside chefs spice the chicken, goat’s meat and emolokony (cow hoof stew.)

Yellow and red car lights slithering up and down Muyenga hill conjure up images of mobile candle lights. The headlamp light bounces off trendy girls going to ‘happen’ in the various bars at the bottom of the hill, in Kansanga.

Muyenga is mainly a residential area for the well-to-do members of the Kampala society, tourists, celebrities and adventurous folk who spend as if they have grudges with their wallets.
 

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Uganda: Arua's Changing Skyline

Thomas Pere 1 October 2010


the new kkt plaza arua largest shopping mall

Kampala — IT is unbelievable; the once small town of Arua has changed completely, making it rival with towns like Kampala. Storeyed buildings start right from the beginning of the main street near the golf course, down to Enyau Kapiri to Arua Hospital which has a multi-billion complex nearing completion.

The trend does not differ when it comes to the streets and markets. Shopping malls and storeyed buildings have been constructed throughout the municipality.



Charles Asiki, the mayor of Arua Municipality, says: "The reason behind the mushrooming storeyed buildings is the need for space which is increasingly becoming limited in the central business district (CBD). But it is not yet a law for only storeyedd buildings to be built in the town. We are just encouraging developers to build."

It does not take anyone walking along these streets long to figure out the reason for this growth. The booming private sector has attracted banks, telecommunication providers, motor dealerships among other enterprises which demand for housing for their offices and workers.



This growth has spilled over to the residential areas, like the junior quarters which once was a green belt. It is now an upscale residential area with predominantly tiled houses.

Part of Barifa Forest has been cleared and used for construction of buildings.

Arua hill from which the district derived its name is now surrounded by fenced residential buildings. Charles Odipio, a migrant from Kampala, says: "Apart from the power which runs for 18 hours a day and the ongoing loadshedding, all the services and opportunities required of a town are available, especially the good buildings both for commercial and residential purposes."



Like other big towns and cities in the world, the municipality comprises people of different tribes and nationalities. The mayor says it is the proximity to the two countries of Sudan and Congo which attracts services and a large population.

He says they still need more investors in the district. The existing services and facilities are already stretched because they are serving not only Arua district but Southern Sudan and eastern Congo.

Asiki says: "It is unfortunate that this fast growth is not planned. It is just taking its own course. Recently we managed to open 22km of community roads which you see in the new residential areas."

He says more work needs to be done to direct this rate of development properly. Plans are already underway to get Arua planned such that in the next 10 years it becomes a city.



Property ownership is diverse in Arua. Some property is owned by institutions like banks, non-governmental organisations and the middle working class.

Peter Omony, a resident of Anyafiyo, says: "The rent of self-contained houses varies. A one-roomed self-contained house can be rented for sh160,000 and a two-roomed house at about sh300,000, while a house with more than three rooms goes for sh600,000 and above."


Martin Mubiru, a civil engineer in the town, says the cost of plots in Arua depends on the location. A 100x150 plot in the town goes for about sh50m or more. In residential areas a plot of 50x100 goes for about sh20m. He says for a shop or office space in the town, one may have to part with an average of sh700,000 for a space of 6x4 metres. This implies that a square metre of office space costs $13 (about sh29,000).

Mubiru says it is difficult to get some construction materials like sand, especially during the rainy season. Transport costs have increased to about sh60,000 per trip. He says it is still hard to get uniform bricks because of lack of standardisation.

Mubiru says hardware materials are available and supplied mainly by the Indian businessmen with some companies opening up warehouses for the region. For tiles, the whole district relies on one supplier.

"If investors invest in making construction materials like bricks and concrete products, it would be a great deal for the region. This is because it is a virgin area which is yet to be exploited given the high growth rate of the industry," Mubiru says.
 

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haha who is going to live in arua, if am to live in ug i would live in munynyo but not arua. may be it there are economic benefits
 

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You can thrive in Lira town
Friday, 11th February, 2011
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This mosque in Lira has never been completed since the Idd Amin regime. Below, workers reconstructing the town drainage system
By Titus Kakembo

BODA bodas, NGO trucks and bicycle taxis cause a jam on Obote, Juba and Kwania avenues. They compete for the patches of tarmac that make up the roads. The riders navigate through with practiced expertise.

At the bottom of Oyam Road are flesh peddlers (prostitutes) on duty 24/7. They whisper “mit-wan keken” (delicious, we are family) as they advertise their service to potential consumers passing by. Come nightfall, the streets choke with patrons munching roast meat or rolex.

You are in Lira town, five hours drive from Kampala. It is accessible by bus, ferry from Nakasongola on Lake Kyoga and air. This is home to a population of about 80,880. The dominant tribe in Lira is Langi, but English and Kiswahili are the commonly used languages.

The staple food is millet bread,

lapena (green lentils) and malakwang.

A bed sitter in Lira goes for about sh60,000-sh150,000 per month. A double roomed house costs sh180,000-sh300,000.

For investors, a commercial plot of land in Lira town costs between sh20m-sh50m. However, there is a shortage of decent residential houses for low income earners.

Traditionally, land among the Langi is communally owned and only inherited by the male members of the family.

Presently, Lango sub-region has a cultural head, Mzee Yosam Odur referred to as the Rwot Nyaci.

He heads all the cultural institutions within Lango sub region and he sits at Lango Cultural Centre, which is within Lira Municipality .

John Okello, an elder who has lived in Lira most of his life, says: “Lira town came about after mosquitoes sent colonial administrators fleeing Dokolo in 1905. The present district headquarters was established in 1914. In 1939, a major boundary adjustment was effected and a considerable area in Kaberamaido was transferred to Teso District.”

The hotels in Lira include Santa Solo, Kenyatta, Pauline, Pan Afrique, Mango Tree and Lilian Towers. Patrons here love dancing and guzzling beer and spirits. Local music by Radio and Weasel, Navio and Chameleone keep dance floors here full to capacity. Lingala and R&B are still preferred by the elders. Lira is one of the districts that boasts of a golf club.

The happening places in Lira are concentrated around the south end of Oyam Road .

The main economic activity here is subsistence farming. In the 1950s, cotton was the major cash crop grown there. It was for this reason,that Lira Spinning Mill, now privatised, was set up. Today, cereals like sesame, pigeon peas, millet and sorghum are widely grown.

The climate there is modified by the swamp area surrounding the southern part of the district.

The rain falls twice a year with one peak during April-May and the other in August-October. The average annual rainfall in the district varies between 1200-1600mm, decreasing northwards. It often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The average minimum and maximum temperatures in Lira are 22.5°C and 25.5°C, respectively. An absolute maximum temperature hardly goes beyond 36°C, and the absolute minimum hardly falls below 13°C.

The shops are stocked with every essential commodity, second-hand clothes and pirated copy rights products or counterfeits imported from China or Taiwan.

“They are affordable,” says Joseph Otim. “If I bought my Qony radio and Puma shoes at sh10,000 and used either for six or 12 months, by the time they wear out I will have made more money for new ones.”

Radio Lira and a television station keep residents abreast of global events like Premier leagues, up dates of Ivory Coast elections saga and keep truck of presidential campaigners.

This is the home of Uganda ’s former president Milton Obote. Uganda People’s Congress diehards always take pilgrimage to his home in Akokoro.

One landmark in the town is a mosque whose construction started during the Idi Amin regime and is yet to be completed.
 

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Lubowa: Blessed by the gods
Friday, 25th February, 2011
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Proximity to the central business district, beaches along Lake Victoria and Entebbe Airport makes Lubowa ideal for leisure, business and travel
By Titus Kakembo

TRANQUIL, magnificent and affluent best describe Lubowa, a residential area located six miles off the Kampala – Entebbe highway.

The eye is greeted by numerous housing estates, well manicured compounds, modern architecture, a children’s park, open clubs and smooth connecting roads.

Lubowa is an artist’s dream of a real life panoramic view. The luxurious estates, gardens and posh homes seem to crane their necks and peep at the shimmering Lake Victoria below, when the sun shines.

If you listen intently, you will not miss the whispers of trees moving in the breeze and the birds cooing.

Easy access to the central business district, the various beaches along Lake Victoria and Entebbe International Airport make Lubowa ideal for leisure, business and travel.

A large supermarket, Lincoln International school, a Bible college are added aces up Lubowa’s sleeves. To cater for the desires of the sophisticated wealthy property buyers and developers, Lubowa has a variety to pick from. The menu comprises Lindsay cottages, Chartsworth, Spring Hill apartments and the National Housing Corporation and Company houses which are available for rent or up for sale.

“Homes here are spacious, beautiful and located in a quiet neighbourhood,” says the Chartsworth engineer Sendiwala.

“On your balcony trees shade you as you see the blue waters of Lake Victoria hugging the azure sky from a distance.”

The neat houses in the estates comprise a lobby, living room, kitchen and other amenities. The houses demonstrate unrivalled workmanship expected from skilled developers.

Other units are high up on hill tops and enjoy 360º views of the countryside. They have fitted kitchens, living rooms with fireplaces, study/TV rooms, attics, bathrooms, vehicle parking and servants’ quarters.

In spite of its proximity to the city, Lubowa falls under Wakiso district. Going by the 1900 agreement, the area occupies eight miles and was designated as a cultural site for Buganda Kingdom.

According to Yosef Lugolobi, a resident of Lubowa, before missionaries introduced Christianity, the Baganda had their gods.

Each had a specialisation. There was a god of love, another for wealth, fire, harvest and procreation.

“The gods used to meet on the Lubowa hills to brainstorm and apportion mortals their desires,” he says. “I believe it is because this place has that power that the residents are happily married and wealthy. It is blessed.”

Today herbalist and witchdoctors still pay homage to Lubowa and secretly whisper their desires to the powers beyond.

John Okello, a superstitious guard, swears he hears motor bikes rev in the night as fire flies light the grey sky.

One thing in Lubowa that has survived the test of time are the butterflies, the greenery and birds.

Climate change and construction has robbed it off its former beauty but it is still endowed a wealth of other nature’s gifts. Ten years ago the area was sparsely populated. But that is no more.

Several property development companies are outcompeting each other to satisfy the growing demand for high-quality residential property.

If one wants a home in Lubowa, the units vary in price.

A four bedroomed house goes for $2,500 per month. A three-bedroom house is available for rent at $1,200 every month.

A four bedroom house with a self-contained master bedroom, organised parking space and in a wall fence sitting on a large 0.33 acres, with a mature garden and splendid views of Lubowa has a price tag of $450,000 for ownership.

Land close to Lake Victoria costs sh200m and above as the asking price.

Here, your neighbour may be one of Uganda’s richest people, a royal or expertriat.
 

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What makes Bugolobi tick…
Friday, 4th March, 2011
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Night revellers congregate in Bugolobi to party, date and relax after a hard week
By Titus Kakembo

IT is a modern model residential area where any ideal home ought to be. Plots are numbered and roads have their name plaques in place. Door-to-door delivery of newspapers would work well here.

Going by the 4WD cars driven by residents, one needs a handsome bank balance to live in Bugolobi.

You spot a Subaru Forester, a Defender there, a cool Discovery 4 glides by as you struggle to get of the Forester.

Living rooms like Capt. Mike Mukula’s are graced with plasma screens, art collections and leather sofa sets.

Healthy looking children, paddle out of wall fences on bicycles or clutching the latest digital toys. Some are dressed like their favourite movie stars.

It is only adults who know that 40 years ago Idi Amin Dada fell out with his Israeli military godfathers, whose countrymen had built the landmark towering flats Bugolobi is best known for.

Oral literature has it that ‘Big Daddy’ gave the Isralis 24 hours to vacate his country. Careless whispers echo how tones of soil dug while constructing the foundations, were flown to the Holy land. Forty years later, things have changed for the better.

“Things have since changed. Currently, trees, space and scenery will shoot up the price of any property here,” David Musungu, a property heir, tips potential sellers.

“Concrete compounds are an eye sore to exposed buyers or travelled tenants. Most of them prefer nature at its best. The greenery and lots of space is what counts.”

While there, be sure to be in the neighbourhood of relatives of the Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame, Mayor Nasser Ntege Sebaggala and survivors of the late Godfrey Binaisa.

All is well in Bugos save for the murky Katanga slum, regular power disconnection in the market and ear assaulting music from the trading centre. Bugolobi remains a calm place, by Kampala standards, to live in.

Economic policies and a calm political climate have since made it a compulsory destination for the wealthy who prefer apartments and bungalows.

“The demand for homes here is driven by a household’s wealth, increasing population growth, availability of credit and prevailing interest rates,” explains Sophie Oluka, a consultant.

“These factors change rapidly with the times,” she adds.

Developers in Bugolobi are constructing houses not only for locals but to also accommodate the increasing number of investors from China, Nigeria, Kenya and DR of Congo.

As trailers off load merchandise, it is evident some utilise the enormous space in the compound to store their goods.

Previously a predominantly residential area, the neighbourhood is fast being transformed into commercial area. Like Nakasero, Wandegeya, and other city suburbs, many residential houses are being redesigned to accommodate offices, gyms, bookshops and restaurants.

In the miniature town along Luthuli Rise is the market and a quaint strip of shops that become pubs in the night. Besides roast chicken and goat’s rib, bread, pastries and cakes are sold here.

The vibrant shopping centre attracts a well-groomed and well-heeled clientele. Small boutiques punctuate the narrow streets. Curios featuring the work of local jewellery and clothing designers and high-end furniture stores showcase a variety of products.

For sh2,000, Windows, a millet brew bar attracts patrons from Namugongo, Mukono and Entebbe.

“After a day’s hard work we vent off the steam here,” says Ojangole Aisu. “We network and swap ideas or job opportunities sitting around a frothy beer pot.”

Bamboo Nest, Rise and other pubs offer residents a place to eat and drink, see local artistes perform and style up with affordable haircuts.

Kenyans have a nook where they are served sukuma wiki, nyama choma and ugali in kilogrammes.

Night revellers congregate in Bugolobi to party, date and relax after a hard week. Brunch options elsewhere include sweet and savoury recipes, French/Italian toast and quiche. The restaurants also serve lunch and dinner during the week.

Bugolobi residents love luxury. They are adventurous diners who sample Italian, Chinese and Asian. Comedy nights and dance parties appeal to them.

But Janet Nerima believes there is still a lot of opportunity for the area to grow.

“The problems have not all gone away.” Adding that, “But now we are finding solutions like getting a Zebra Crossing along Port Bell Road and filling the potholes.”
 

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Kireka shoulders Kampala’s population
Friday, 11th March, 2011
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The construction of Mandela National stadium in the mid-90s triggered the development of Kireka
By Titus Kakembo

KAMPALA City is overwhelmed by a fast growing population. Like a glutton, 21 hills have been swallowed up by its expansion. The 19sqkm on the seven hills as it were in the 1960s are no more.

Kireka, a suburb which carelessly sits along the Jinja-Kampala highway, is one of the most affected areas. The city seems to have extended to Kireka while we were not looking.

Housing estates, supermarkets, hostels, banks, hawkers and hotels are conducting brisk business here.

Property in Kireka does not come cheap. Renting a two bed-roomed unit costs sh250,000 and above. Land lords ask for the initial payment to cover three months in rent advance. Thereafter, payments are done monthly.

A flat is available for sh450,000-sh600,000 per month. A two roomed house is tagged sh150,000 while a plot measuring 50x100metres goes for sh20m and above.

The construction of Mandela National Stadium in 1995/6 triggered development. Residents still whisper about how wild dogs mysteriously disappeared from the area during those 12 months of construction.

Shortly after, the Northern Bypass came to life, making Kireka easily accessible. The now tarmacked Kamuli Road connects Bugolobi and Naalya to beyond. Business is brisk while real estate buildings has borne millionaires in this neighbourhood.

With radars of money-minting opportunities on full alert, hotels of all classes have been established.

Today, you cannot ignore Kabaka Mutebi’s motorcade and the presence of diplomatic Waswa Birigwa.

Before royality got an address there, President Museveni and Ndugu Ruhakana Rugunda were once residents. This was before the NRM rebellion started in the 1980s. However, efforts to locate where they lived at that time are fruitless.

All day, traffic in Kireka is heavy as civil servants, students and traders commute to and from the city. During the just concluded presidential elections, all eyes were on Kireka because Mandela National Stadium was the national tallying centre.

Most political parties have held their national meetings at the stadium while international evangalists like Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar once filled the same stadium to capacity with congregations.

Folks with huge appetites patronise Kado Pado, Zinc Pub, Planet One, Nassanga Restaurant and Blue Bar. Ask and you will join a chess or scrabble club in Kireka.

At Extreme dance-hall, night life revellers hop about like they are stepping on live electric wires. It is the Stamina dance style in vogue and the youth cut of a Mohawk hairstyle.

Some of these joints are open 24 hours throughout the week. Patrons here have preferences — the Sebei and Karimojong prefer Victoria Club. Petima is popular for lovers and gamblers.

Kireka is swarming with prostitutes and by midnight most men are drunkenly swearing their undying love or even proposing marriage to these women of the night.

Diners of toninyira (mobile food vendors) have a long menu comprising pilao, yams, kikomando, tea, bushera, roast sausages, fish and chips. The negotiable pocket friendly prices range between sh200 and sh2,000 a meal.

Students from hostels, bachelors and spinsters are often seen eating or taking away their dinner.

Second-hand car markets and hardware shops which cater for the needs of residents here are a brisk business.

Paint, cigarettes and a brewery employ part of Kireka’s population.

Kireka market was recently renovated and has better stalls and a more hygienic environment. This is the place that feeds the swelling population.

Kireka can become a better place to live in if there is reduction in sound pollution, improvement in garbage collection and construction of more public toilets.
 

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Nakasongola a town of dreams
Friday, 18th March, 2011
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Break neck development in Nakasongola has been brought about by the construction of new roads and booming business, especially agriculture and ranching
By Titus Kakembo

IF the Conqueror of the British Empire, Idi Amin Dada’s army’s dreams were to come true, Nakasongola would have been the base of Uganda’s airforce.

“The pilots of the MiG-17 jets used to train there. They would taxi underground and pop out after gathering momentum to take off,” John Odit, a former soldier in the Uganda Army in the 1970s, says with nostalgia.

“Unfortunately 11 of the jets were destroyed on June 4, 1976 during the raid on Entebbe.”

After the attack, there were no jets to dog fight, nosedive and release patterns of smoke spelling the name Uganda in the clouds. More than 25 years have gone by, but the miniature town remains best known for a UPDF Airforce an artillery training school it still hosts and a pastoral lifestyle.

This is Nakasongola, a place of myths and real life tales. Today, the residents are all smiles. This follows the completion of the Wabigalo-Nakasongola-Sasira road, connecting the district headquarters to the Kampala-Gulu highway.

For a fare of sh1,000, the journey takes 10 minutes on a boda boda. This way you get to enjoy the breeze from the swamps or the perfect view of the panoramic hills.

Reconstruction work is being undertaken at a cost of $6m (about sh13.8b.)

A boda boda operator Salim Nkugwe says “Before work on the road commenced, the potholes were so big. But today, the 21km stretch connecting us to the highway is smooth.”

Already, the road is attracting more taxis plying the Gulu/Kampala Highway. There are travellers who use a ferry from Nakasongola to Lira, Shengebe and Namasale. Residents have access to almost all telephone networks.

To keep law and order, the Uganda Police is challenged by a pastoral life style. Parents have children herding cows instead of going to school. The probation officer, Irene Sanyu, says, dropping out of school due to early or forced marriages is still a common occurrence.

World Vision programme manager, Moses Kadobela says a home, to a pastoralist, is where there is water and pasture for the livestock.

“Pastoralists have no permanent addresses,” says Kadobela. “But this lifestyle is slowly changing as they adopt modern farming methods.”

Soon families in Nakasongola expect to benefit from Universal Primary Education and NAADS programmes.

“Our lives economically, socially and politically are dictated, largely, by livestock,” says Roscoe Segujja. “For bride price it is cows, insurance is cows and social status are measured upon the size of the kraal.”

For a place that is located 130km north of Kampala city, the farm land is diverse and the residents have found a niche in farming and ranching. Milk costs sh600 per litre and beef goes for between sh5,000 and sh6,000. Agriculture is one of the major activities in Nakasongola.

Inspite of the changing climate, residents have a steady supply of food. The produce comprises fish, cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, sorghum, bananas and millet.

But among the challenges is the unscrupulous herdsmen who sell off their employers’ animals and migrate to Lango or Teso.

If you want to live in Nakasongola, a single room with shared toilets costs sh50,000 per month. A single roomed unit is between sh80,000 and sh100,000 and a full bungalow goes for sh250,000.

Land in the trading centre is much more expensive than it is in the villages. A 50 by100ft piece of land goes for between sh2m and sh5m. On the other hand, an acre of farmland costs between sh200,000 and sh600,000 in the countryside. All these prices depend on the buyer’s negotiating skills.
 

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What sparks Ntinda to life?
Friday, 25th March, 2011
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Ntinda has developed from being a suburb to being a business and entertainment centre
By Titus Kakembo

BEFORE Club Palui, Quality Super Market and Zanzi Pork Joint became the flagships of Ntinda, Kabaka Mutebi’s Old Boy (OB), Nick popularised the area with Yakobo Pub.

Fat city dwellers waddled out of posh cars to wolf pork chops and guzzle floods of beer.

“Unfortunately, Nick closed the place before we established wheather he and the Kabaka studied together at Kingsmead Preparatory School, Sussex, Bradford Public School Reading or Cambridge University, “ recounts Joseph Serunkuma, a resident.

Ntinda residents still boast of some of the most treasured gifts that came from their backyard when the Kabaka wed Nagginda in 1999.

“Nick gave the Kabaka two choices ond Ba-ffee (our husband) preferred the book,” whispers Jane Nakimuli.

This was a book that had run out of stock about Buganda culture.

Come weekends, there is absolutely no change. Ntinda remains a compulsory destination for lovers, shoppers, worshippers and entertainment seekers.

The air is blazed with open charcoal ovens, roast pork, chicken and stuffed offals.

What used to be Yakobo’s is a high rise Tuskys Supermarket. It is surrounded by nooks lit by lazy lights and candle flames sending the shadows of patrons dancing on the walls.

Restaurants, bars and supermarkets are filled to capacity with romantic youth and middle-aged clients holding hands. They sit closely together as if there is not enough space.

What’s more in Ntinda?
One of the presidential candidates, Bidandi Ssali resides there. This is where the People’s Progressive Party headquarters is. True to the old adage, charity begins at home.

Kiwatule Recreation Centre (Bidandi’s property) is located just a stone’s throw away from bustling Ntinda.

I even saw the Forum for Democratic Change spokes person, new parliamentarian Wafula Ogutu drive by.

“Times, politics, economics and neighbourhoods have changed in the entire area,” observes Onaba, an elder. “In the 1960s we used to take 10 minutes to drive to Kampala City. But today, even an hour is not enough.”

True to her word, traffic jam is a common occurrance along Ntinda’s connecting roads at peak hours. Boda bodas weave, snake and zoom through.

However, Ntinda is a hive of activity. The community has nooks where they dine, wine and make merry.

For home seekers, the place is ideal because of its proximity to the central business district of Kampala. As the demands of moneyed residents get more sophisticated, super markets are replacing Asian style dukas (corner shops.)

To contain the swelling competition and increased demand for homes, high-rise structures are making landlords exploit the scarce to capacity.

Besides proximity to Kampala city, Ntinda is fast becoming the model Satellite City. It has numerous NGOs, offices, medical services, schools and higher institutions.

“Ndere Troupe keeps us laughing and appreciating our diverse cultures,” says Frederick Kakembo of Dembe FM. “One can entertain guests without travelling to the National Theatre. The Bahai Church Hills are a dream come true for a picnic.”

Clubbing and dining ‘pastoralists’ have a variety of options where to whet their appetites and obey thirst. There is Club Katalina, Akamwezi, popular with traditional cuisines while Palui is popular with campusers.

Housing
A variety of housing estates have sprung up around Ntinda trading centre.

Take Samawata Road; go to Ministers Village, Kiwatule estate and Kisasi village, all are dotted with plush residential units.

School buses comb them for pupils destined to Kabira International and Kampala Parents’ School.

A two-bed-roomed house with a living room costs between sh250,000 and sh450,000. A bed-sit which is popular with university scholars from up-country and abroad is tagged between sh150,000 and sh200,000.

Meanwhile, a mansion with a compound is available at between sh450,000 and sh600,000.

For land measuring 50ftx100ft, one has to dig in the wallet for sh15m or more.
 

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Oil brings new facelift to Hoima
Business
Written by Moses Talemwa
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 20:34
Visiting oil rich Hoima town after a year, one gets the impression that the town is re-positioning itself to tap the huge expected revenues from oil.

There seems to be a belief that the first areas to benefit from the oil sector will be in the hospitality and real estate sectors. Just cruising around the town, a rough count of the hotels and lodges brings the figure to 28, an increase from 12 a year back.

And the old ones are improving their facilities to remain relevant in what they expect to be a vibrant sector.

Lawrence Bategeka, who has been running one of the district's best schools, Mandela SS Hoima, since 1997, recently started putting up a hotel, which he is yet to name.

"I think that if you invest in a hotel, it will return more money than a school while accounting for less in operating costs. And with the oil industry coming, one can't go wrong", he says.

Others like the long-running Kon Tiki and Kolping hotels have seen improvements in their facilities by installing solar powered lighting and DStv to ensure uninterrupted services.

"We want to ensure that clients will get uninterrupted service", a receptionist at Kolping Hotel said.

Two major bus companies, Link and Hoima coaches, serve the town as well as a string of mini-bus taxis. Link Bus, in particular, has devoted eight buses on this route alone, even though some of them travel half-full.

But the company continues to build its capacity for the long term. "We are new on this route, but we are hoping to give customers a good service and eventually they will look at it as value for money", Swaleh Ayebale, a staffer on the Link bus says.

The company has put up a relatively modern bus terminal in Hoima that accommodates two buses at any one time. The company has also improved its services, with a staffer ready with a jerrycan of water around Busunju in Mityana district for passengers after easing themselves.

But the availability of office space is the most visible aspect of Hoima's new facelift. Most developers are evidently going for taller buildings to take advantage of every inch of space.

"There is a belief that many companies working with the oil explorers will come here to look for office space, since the oil is in the village", Abel Mugangaizi, a part-time land broker in Hoima, says.

Mugangaizi also admitted that the price of land has shot up around Hoima in the last three years. A plot of land measuring 100ft by 50ft with a relatively old structure now goes for Shs 25 million, up from Shs 15 million two years ago.

"And as it becomes evident that oil is coming, those prices will go even higher, because some companies may want to buy more land to build offices and homes", Mugangaizi explains.

But the real estate area is likely to be dominated by the old players.

For instance, Tullow Oilís offices are to be found on the two-storeyed Muganwa Centre, which belongs to deputy Prime Minister Henry Muganwa Kajura.

The town's banking system has also become more active in the last two years. There are now 14 commercial banks and at least three Microfinance and Deposit-taking Institutions (MDIs) like Pride Microfinance, making for a very busy bank clearing house.

However, the town faces the challenge of a poor road network. Compared to Takoradi in Ghana, the coastal town close to the offshore oil where the infrastructure has attracted all sorts of trading activities, Hoima remains a sleepy town, with boda bodas including bicycles the main means of transport around town.

Hoima town recently upgraded to a Municipality but the transformation in its infrastructure will take time. Most roads in Hoima are murram and dusty.
 

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Namugongo: Religious and…
Friday, 8th April, 2011
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Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo; one of the biggest attraction world-wide
By Titus Kakembo

IT is a place of astounding religious importance - the world over. Come June 3, and Namugongo bubbles with activity.

Pilgrims trek, drive and fly from different parts of the world to commemorate the execution of the pioneer martyrs of Africa dating far back to 1886.

On that day, tongues go on riot with words and wag with amorphous appetites for beer. Pork is wolfed as if pigs were on the verge of extinction. In their drunken stupor, the sober and drunk engage in arguments.

Feeling the pulse of life there on a Sunday, I was shocked to see the conventional Catholic and Protestant churches filling to capacity.

Namugongo residents never miss touring the legendary tree where the hang-man then, Mukajanga, used to execute his bloody duties.

Mini-supermarkets, big time schools like Vienna College, dukas (corner-shops), fast pork dispensers and pubs make the place vibrant.

Local artistes often hit the town over weekends to keep residents on the edges of their seats with new hits. There are frothy millet beer bars where patrons pay sh2,000 per sitting. Molokony (cow-hoof stew) goes for sh2,500.

Rangers is a pub not worth missing. Africanica is more spacious with neatly manicured gardens. But swimming and other leisure destinations comprise Agenda and Linda.

While sipping a cold beer there, I overheard one group argue wheather Kabaka Mwanga II, who condemned the martyrs to death, should be remembered as a hero or a villain.

“Gadaffi in Libya and Gbagbo of Ivory Coast are fighting to the last man,” pointed out Kizito Mukasa, a resident of Namugongo.“ “The missionaries over threw Kabaka Mwanga. They rubbished our gods and declared that there is The Almighty.”

After sending his Adam’s apple rocking up and down while guzzling beer, the other party quotes Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.“ When the missionaries came, the Africans had land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened our eyes, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

After this drunken brainstorming, I took a walk around Namugongo and searched among property agents about the rates there.

Namugongo is a 30-minute drive east of Kampala City. The pace of life there is slow and religious. There is an access road from Seeta, off Kampala/Jinja highway via Sonde. Another alternative route is through Ntinda via Naalya and Kyaliwajjala trading centre.

The volume of traffic depends on the time of the day.

The profile of Namugongo residents comprises doctors, accountants, journalists, the clergy, traders, lawyers and teachers.

In the midst of Namugongo is Harambe Urban Farm supplying homes with eggs, milk, fruits and chicken at pocket friendly prices. In these times of rising cost of food, the gospel preached is that every home must have a backyard farm.

However, with their radars on full alert for the swelling need for homes, property dealers comprising Jomayi, Hossana and Akright have bought huge pieces of land and partitioned them into 50ftx100ft plots.

The price ranges between sh7m-sh10m. The plots are equipped with running water tunnels, roads, electricity and piped water.

A newly built three-bedroom, two bathrooms and gardens which occupy 15 decimals of land in an estate goes for over sh135m.

When it comes to rent, a two bedroom bungalow costs between sh350,000 and sh700,000 per month.

With the Northern Bypass, Namugongo can easily access neighbourhoods of Ntinda, Bwaise, Naalya, Kireka, and Busega.

Speculators say the area is yet to be exploited to capacity.

“There is need for affordable lodging facilities and turning the place into a destination all year round,” says John Mulengera, a businessman. “This would decongest the place even during the Martyr’s Day celebrations.”

With Kenyatta’s quotation ringing in my mind, I left Namungongo with another view. Besides the Bible, missionaries in Uganda left the converts brave enough to face death without switching allegiance from God.
 

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Soroti is flying…
Friday, 15th April, 2011
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Solot Rock: The construction business is growing, the market is expanding and the outskirts are sprawling with new buildings.
By Titus Kakembo

SUNNY, flat and rocky describes Soroti district best. The town is one of the biggest in eastern Uganda.

According to the folklore, the name comes from Solot rock. This name was allegedly changed by the agents of the Buganda colonial government into Soroti.

This claim is contested by Denis Asiimwe, a history scholar on Arab influence in Uganda. He says Soroti comes from an Arab word Swaharat - meaning rock.

Besides the legendary rock, Soroti town skies are punctuated by birds, 172 Cessna planes and 310 aeroplanes. The drone of their engines is the trademark of the town.

Most of the economic activity here revolves around the flying school. Half of the residential houses accommodate its staff.

“Capt. David Enabu, who was the first African pilot to fly the pope was trained here,” boasts Cecilia Akello, a resident in the area.

Go to Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Rwanda or Burundi and you will get pilots, engineers and air traffic controllers trained from Soroti Flying School.

David Oay, a property agent, says: “Gone are the days when the popular schools were St. Ann’s Madera Boarding School and Kidetok Girls. Parents and students now have a variety of private schools to pick from.”

Foodstuffs are brought to the market from Gweri, Omodoi and fish from Lake Kyoga is in plenty. Fresh vegetables, spices and bananas are ferried in by traders from Mbale.

Auction markets (Okisoni )are booming and held every week all over the district. Buyers and sellers storm the markets to buy and sell animals, cereals like millet, second-hand clothes and other commodities like bicycles. One of the biggest auction markets in Soroti is Ocorimongin.

The dominant tribes here are the Iteso and Kumam. The Iteso are believed to have their roots in the Horn of Africa while the Kumam broke away from the Langi.

Besides Ateso and Kumam, other commonly used languages are English and Kiswahili. Luganda is a common language in the markets and taxi park.

The impact of the construction fray is evident in the town. Slums like Nakatunya, Camp Swahili, Kengere, Moru Apesur, Kichinjagi and Pamba have been reclaimed by the expanding town. The prison gardens on Moroto Road and Lale Road are sprawling with new houses.

General utilities like water and electricity are being distributed ameacably.

A 50ftX50ft plot of land in Soroti costs between sh5m and sh8m. The same size of land in the town outskirts goes for sh3m.

The average rent rate for a two-bedroom house is between sh200,000 and sh400,000.

The night life in the region district is admirable. Revellers love to storm Jumabhai Road or Market Street where pubs and restaurants are making profits and expanding.

Roadside vendors have taken advantage of the growing population and development to make a quick buck.

They fry and sell food items like fish and chips on prominent street corners. Those with the big money hangout in Soroti Hotel or Flying View Hotel.

Those who want to relax by engaging in a sport can play tennis and squash at the Pioneer School Courts and the Golf Club on Lira Road.

Pool is another sport that is fast gaining popularity.

Café Amigos is the place to be for coffee, tea and cookie lovers. Aipany (Trends) Discotheque is a crowd puller of the youth.

Local music called Akembe and Akogo are the norm in Teso land. However, dancehall music, hiphop and Rnb music are building a great audience in Teso.

Keko, the new hiphop sensation in the country is evidence to the growing trend.

In an Iteso home, there is a newly born children are named uniquely.

Some mothers choose to name the babies depending on the circumstance or the prevailing weather when the child is born.

“A child is accepted after performing a ritual known as etale in the home,” says a guide at the Uganda museum. “This is restricted to the members of the clan. The roads to the home are lined with thorns to prevent none members from attending. The occasion involves a lot of eating, dancing and drinking ajon (millet beer).
 

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Kikuubo becomes tourist attraction
Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
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Traders and customers at the Nakivubo business area
By Titus Kakembo

THERE is a massive crowd of buyers and sellers besieging Kikubo from sun rise to sun set. This is the busy lane that connects Kyagwe and Rubaga Roads.

First time visitors are mesmerised by the way one weaves through trucks and rub shoulders with fast fingered pickpockets.

“Tourists are amazed to see many people crammed in a narrow lane like locusts in season,” says Amb Julius Onen the Permanent Secretary ministry of trade, tourism and industry. “Other than shooting Kikubo photographs to post on their social networks, the speculative traders there make sure some money is left behind by tourist when they purchase jewelry, sleep in the hippie lodges there and consume spirits,” he says.”

Onen says after Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) and National Parks, Kikubo is steadily asserting its place in the lead as an attraction of tourists.

He said tourists are amazed by things people take for granted. Visitors are thrilled to weave through this mass on a Boda boda, eat roast sausages and kicomando.

“If all players emulate Kikubo entrepreneurs, the country’s budding tourism industry will have travelers leaving behind $500 by consuming what is in store on the chain of catering service providers.”

Asked how business is, Sanyu Hamida cautions new comers to Kikubo. “You have to haggle on prices.” Adding that, “If it is a fruitful bargain you can get a 50% discount. Those who do not, are often fleeced, haggling is a tradition here.”

Hamida says there are commission agents who scout Kampala City streets for customers. Some walk back home with between sh50, 000 – sh300, 000 depending on the volume of purchases connected. Hawkers without capital also get stock in morning, before embarking on long walks in residential areas to sell and return in the evening.

Kikubo is one stop shopping center popular with the foreign visitors and the local customers. Upon being threatened by multinational shops like Nakumat, Game and Steers, Kikubo property developers; Sudhir Ruparelia, Godfrey Kirumira and Drake Lubega have upgraded their properties. ”

Another change in Kikubo is the replacement of kibanda (unregistered money changers of the 1980s) by registered foreign exchange bureaus and banking institutions.

The banks in Kikubo now include Centenary, Bank of Africa, DFCU, Cairo Bank, Stanbic and DFCU. The secretary for Defence Kasirye Daudi says many more have booked space in the malls and are due to open soon.
 

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Bombo is gaining ground…
Friday, 22nd April, 2011
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The newly constructed structure that houses the Bombo Town council headquarters
By Samuel Lutwama

BACK in the 1960s and 70s, Bombo town was recognised as a business hub. The area flourished because of the coffee boom.

Coffee traders from other regions of the country rushed to Bombo to buy coffee. Because of the booming business, the town gained a municipal status.

When Idi Amin seized power in the early 1970s, Bombo which was predominantly a Nubian stronghold became influential in shaping the political trend in Uganda.

In a way, many businesses mushroomed because of political influence.

However, with the fall of Amin’s regime, the town fell apart and became a ghost of its former self.

In spite of that, Bombo remained a military stronghold. It became the headquarters of the defense ministry before it was shifted to Mbuya.

Bombo has not lost the grip of military affairs. It harbours the headquarters of UPDF Land Forces.

Although the old structures still exist in the town council, they look more like a monument of the town’s former splendor.

Bombo is located approximately 33km by road north of Uganda’s capital. It is on the highway to Masindi and continuing to Gulu and Arua in northern Uganda.

The population survey conducted in 2008 by Uganda Bureau of Statistics estimated the population of Bombo to be at 19,400 people.

It takes less than one hour to reach Bombo using public transport from Kampala.

At the Kampla New Taxi Park the transport fare isabout sh3,000 and sh2,000 from Bombo to Kampala.

Because of its strategic location to the main road, the public vehicles are quite accessible.

A recent tour of Bombo town however revealed a new spirit that is sweeping through the town as people put up modern buildings and turning the town into yet a business hub.

According to the acting town clerk, Lydia Nabassa, “True Bombo was once a flourishing town, like other towns in the past until it became a victim of political turbulence that griped our country for many years. The town is now emerging back from the effects of the political unrest.”

Nabassa says the stable development and growth in Bombo has made it possible for the it to evolve into a town council. She says Bombo is worth a town status.

Through development plans initiated by the government, the town council is being upgraded. New buildings are being constructed, the roads are being tarmacked and schools and healthy centres have been put in place.

Furthermore, the town council has put in place a master plan that details the guidelines and requirments for the construction of both commercial and residential buildings.

Margaret Nalule, the senior Engineer of Bombo Town council, says the architectural team has resolved to have standard plots available for construction of new buildings.

"We have a standard for any plot of land. Every plot, below 50ftx50ft does not fall in the approved standards.”

The council has also formulated policies for a piped water system.

The town clerk says development in Bombo is no longer just a promise, but a reality that is seen in the mushrooming residential houses.

With the ever growing urban population, the demand for rental houses has more than doubled. Some army officers prefer to reside outside the barracks.

A self-contained rental house in the town costs about sh150,000 per month.

While on average 50x100ft plots of land near and within the town go for about sh6m, land is much cheaper on the outskirts.

Some people use their houses as a symbol of their status as Hajjati Aisha Ndagire, the newly elected mayor of the town council points out.

“Unlike my opponents whose election bid suffered setbacks because they had no houses of their own, my electoral victory partly came from my social status as a resident of the town council” she boasted.

Nabbasa believes that Bombo town is on its way to reclaim its former glory and economic strength.
 

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Ngamba island: The chimp sanctuary
Friday, 29th April, 2011
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The dining area at Ngamba Chimpanzee Santuary
By Titus Kakembo

THE relocation of 44 rescued chimpanzees to Ngamba Island has provided a safe haven for the chimps. It has also led to a transformation of the social and economic lifestyle of the fishing community and the neighbourhoods of Kome, Mende and Ngaga islands.

When the German Ambassador Klaus Dieter Duxmann visited the Island recently, he was impressed by the sanctuary. “I find tourism on Ngamba Island a kinder way of travelling, gentler to the pocket, sensitive to community hosts and caring towards nature,” he says.

Beaming with satisfaction he added, “I recommend it for anyone who wants a sun tan, drink some wine, buy crafts, speak to the locals and find out how they live. Indeed I find it a positive contribution to society as a whole.”

Mukono LCV chairman Lukoya says: “Ngamba is a live example of how tourism can trigger development. We are going to introduce a department to promote tourism in the entire district. The challenge is to make the tourist spend at least $500 (about sh2m) while here.”

Lukoya says besides culture, panoramic scenes and nature, there are butterflies, reptiles and birds that can interest local and international guests there. True to his word, over 5,000 tourists from Uganda and abroad visit Ngamba Island every year. This volume of tourism has inspired the locals who have sought to exploit this trend. In one way, the locals are investing in the art and crafts trade.

Aisha Nalwada, a resident in the area, says: “We are making considerable income from our baskets, mats and jewellery supplements and the fishing industry. Make-shift homesteads, can be rented from between sh20,000 and sh50,000, are still dominant around the Ngamba Island. Baked brick permanent structures are being built with iron sheet roofs.”

Nalwada says, if the fish catch is low, other sources of income got from agriculture and artifacts sustain the family.

“In the past a person would grab a stick at the sight of a snake, but today, a resident will dial Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) staff to come and take the reptile away,” says Kome LC1 chairman Abdu Tamale.

The attitude among the fishing community has been changed. Ngamba Island veterinary doctor Joshua Rukundo says, new toilet facilities have been introduced on the island.

“The human waste is collected in sacks and processed into manure. This boosts farm output and enriches the soil at an affordable way. Many have been urged to grow fruits, spices and food crops that can be bought for the chimpanzees and the resident guests here.”

Since traditionally fishing is a preserve for the men, farming and making artifacts are fast becoming an option for women to boost the low domestic incomes of the fishing community.

In the past, prostitution was a popular activity, where fishermen swapped fish for sex.

Today, the local community congregates every Sunday to share ideas and experiences and suggest innovative ways of driving sustainable development.

For instance, the community is now using energy saving stoves and has reduced on the use of firewood and charcoal. They are also embracing the idea of proper waste disposal. These meetings are also intended for the sensitisation the locals about the dangers of overfishing and using of archaic methods.

Permanent houses are very scanty. Instead make-shift structures dominate the area.

The LC1 on Ngaga Abdu Tamale, says: “Fishermen are like pastoralists. When the catch is greater on another landing site, they move house. Next month if they hear that the bigger catch is here, they will return in droves.”

The locals also love their leisure. The locals love to play cards, drink local brew, listen to radio and dance during their leisure time. Fertility rates are very high in the islands. Every woman is expected to have more than seven children in her life time.

“Developers are eyeing properties in Mukono district. The islands are going for as much as $15m,” says Lukoya. In the classified advertisements, in the New Vision paper, a plot of land is available for between sh30m and sh50m. A 50ftx50ft piece of land costs between sh4m and sh8m.
 

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Kyengera, a place that never sleeps
Friday, 6th May, 2011
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The rolex sellers in Kyengera work day and night
By John Agaba

KYENGERA town lies along the Kampala-Masaka Road. One can access it either from Busega or Nsangi.

From Busega, a swamp separates Kyengera from the rest of the surrounding areas. Accessing Kyengera from Nsangi, one has to go through Kitemu, Nabbingo and Buddo.

Kyengera is fast growing into one of the most preferred residential places. Many people hoping to settle find it a better option to build their houses.

Joseph Kakande, a resident in the area, says Kyengera attracts people from all works of life, partly because it is accessible, has a good security and sanitation — a reason which has made it develop.

He says: “Just a few years back, the area was scarcely populated. There were few houses; one here, one there. A plot of land then cost about sh4m but now things have changed.’’

And indeed things have changed. Kyengera is now a beehive of houses — both residential and commercial.

Today, one of the challenges the people of Kyengera face is heavy traffic. Though the place is accessible, when the traffic is heavy it can take you about two hours from Kampala to reach a place which would normally take 30 minutes.

In order to beat the morning traffic jam, residents rise early and ensure that they are on the road before 7:00am. In the evenings, they must leave town before 6:00pm, or they wait till after 9:00pm.

The transport fares on this route are most appalling. You can blame it on the soaring fuel prices. But travelling in a taxi from Kampala to Kyengera is sh1,500, and vice versa.

However, if there is anything, Kyengera residents love about the place, and which you too could love, is Kyengera’s night life.

Kyengera trading centre never sleeps. Actually, you should never be surprised if you got there at around 3:00am and found bars like the famous Canaan playing the loudest Karaoke, T1; blazing the hardest Rap and Rhythm & Blue.

Apart from the bars, you can not fail to get yourself something to eat. There will be fried chicken, chapattis and cassava. The rolex vendors in this place never sleep.

Just so you know, Kyengera is an equivalent of Soweto. Now, if you know what that South African town is famous for, you will find it all here in Kyengera. The area just behind Equity Bank has all you can trace in the South African city.

The place is littered with numerous restaurants that turn into brothels once the customers are drunk and desire more ‘quality time’.

Patrick Mwagale, a boda boda cyclist says, beers hear is cheap. “There are all these sorts of local liquor which are so cheap. With only sh2,000 you may certainly fail to trace your way back home. They have malwa, ajon, omuramba, name it...’’

The night time is so entertaining, especially for the ‘middle class’ and the beauty about it is all these bars are operated by women. Forinstance, Sax Pub is famous for the ladies of the night.

This is a contrast to the residential areas of Mugongo and Wakimese, which are so quiet that if you spent a night there, you would hardly hear a thing.

According to Mwagale, many consider Wakimese, Kyengera’s Muyenga. The area boasts of a number of houses with architecture you can only trace in the posh houses in Muyenga. It also has unlittered pathways. Because the place has a good neighborhood, you might think it is too costly to rent, which is not true.

Renting a descent double-roomed house in Kyengera ranges from sh120,000 to sh170,000 while a two-bed-room house goes for about sh250,000 to sh300,000.

Recently, the demand for land is high. A 50ftx50ft plot of land goes for between sh7m to sh10m, and a 100ftx100ft plot, costs about sh20m.

Farouk Kimbugwe, one of the young men staying in Kyengera, says thieves in the area are still a challenge.

He laments that using a solex padlock for a house does not give much of protection.

Despite this, the place boasts of mushrooming businesses, majority of which are retail shops. These are fuelled by heavy truck drivers who usually stop there on their way.

The place is surrounded by prominent schools like the famous Kings College Budo, Trinity College Nabbingo and the St. Lawrence schools.

In Kyengera, electricity is stable and so is water. Although there is no government hospital, the area has enough health facilities. The place has an ambiance that attracts many people. You just need a walk through it to have a feel of its fresh air.
 

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Kizungu Hill, a posh haven in Makindye
Friday, 13th May, 2011
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Kizungu Hill gives a clear aeriel view of Kampala
By Joseph Ssemutooke

BEING one of the largest and oldest residential suburbs of Kampala, Makindye (to the South West of the city) once enjoyed pomp as a neighbourhood.

Anyone looking to reside in an upscale community looked to Makindye. That explains why it is the home of several personalities who were affluent back in the day.

Still, a number of today’s young and famous have chosen to put up there (especially those in the entertainment industry who are getting it to be referred to as Uganda’s Hollywood).

Of late, the neighbourhood has lost its place among the top residential niches of Kampala, becoming crammed to near-slum levels. Business enterprises have been introduced alongside the homesteads, turning out to host innumerable bars and night clubs that disturb the peace at night, among other changes that have seen it decline.

However, while the old Makindye as it was known has ceased to be a residential haven, some outlying bits of the neighbourhood have grown to establish themselves as substitute residential havens. Meaning, Makindye has not totally lost out on being a dream residential niche, but rather the sections of the sprawling neighbourhood that form the residential commune have shifted. From the sections of Makindye nearest to town to those sections further away from town and on the fringes of the neighbourhood.

One of those new outlier parts of Makindye that have established themselves as new residential havens is Kizungu Hill. Perchance this one could even be declared the new choicest residential section of Makindye today.

Map to Makindye

Branch off the highway to Entebbe Airport at the Kibuye roundabout, drive straight uphill to the trading centre where lies the Makindye Magistrate’s court.

Then from that trading centre continue upward to the overlooking chunk of hill about 400 metres off (a total of about 3 kilometres from the Kibuye roundabout).

Or from the Kibuye roundabout drive upward a short distance and stop at the military barracks in the heart of Makindye (about 600 metres from the roundabout), then follow the road that branches off to the left below the barracks like heading to Nsambya. At the junction where the road slopes down to Nsambya, continue straight ahead for about 500 metres, and anywhere between there draw to a random halt and look upwards to your right. The sprawling hill overreaching is Makindye-Kizungu.

A stylish neighbourhood

From the first look, Kizungu is a stylish neighbourhood with stylish, majestic bungalows and flats lining its brow all the way to the top. The houses are not crammed.

For one looking to put up a magnificent edifice, but with concerns not to be let down by the neighbourhood, it is a place where a magnificent structure will stand among mates and not have its beauty lost out on an inferior neighbourhood.

Standing on the hill, particularly on the slopes facing Nsambya, the eye is guaranteed a commanding view of the whole of Kampala, laid out below as it would be for one in an aircraft.

The panorama on the other side serves a scenic view of Lake Victoria and its shores at Ggaba.

If you draw nearer and actually get a chance to see some of the occupants of the magnificent structures, the revelation is clearly that the residents of Kizungu are largely upper middle-class Ugandans, with a few top class members among them. Among these, a good number are white expatriates, the reason for the neighbourhood’s name — Kizungu (neighbourhood of Whites).

Though the neighbourhood has until recently been exclusively settled by the common man, most of those nondescript owners have sold off their land and moved away.

Good Infrastructure and amenities

The moment you branch off Entebbe Highway at Kibuye, both alternative routes to Kizungu continue to be tarmacked affairs up to the junctions where you have to branch off and climb the few metres to your abode.

If you are lucky to be in the neighbourhood of a very wealthy resident, even the drive to your abode might be tarmacked courtesy of the rich neighbour.

The environment is clean, with well-planned gutters leading the rains down the hill. Water and electricity are readily available. As regards to public transport, taxis pry the route from Kampala and back, at only sh1,200.

For shopping, there are several little trading centres at the base of the hill, where a little domestic shopping is possible. One major centre is the one at Makindye Court, which also has a large market.

Even still, Kizungu is not far from the heart and throb of Makindye itself, so one might drop back to the larger Makindye bazaars if the nearby trading centres come short.

However, Kizungu is no place for the financially wobbling. It is an expensive neighbourhood. According to land brokers in Makindye, a prime piece of land in Kizungu, 50ftx100ft, goes for about sh50m or more, while one of 100ftx100ft goes for about sh90m.

Already constructed structures go for over sh400m depending on the size, design and location.

For tenants, a two bed-roomed house fitted with washrooms goes for about sh500,000 a month; while the cheaper one and two-roomed structures which are almost impossible to get, may go for about sh200,000 and 300,000 respectively.

Hardships about the area

One of the major flaws is public transport difficulty for late night travelers. Most of the last taxis to Kizungu leave the taxi park at about 10:00pm. Therefore, beyond 10:00pm, boda bodas are the most common means.

Only those on the side of Kizungu next to the Makindye Court area can have the luxury of using the mainstream Makindye-Luwafu taxis that operate late into the night.

Much as Kizungu is secure with policemen always on patrol and most homes having private security, there is also a possibility of insecurity for the residents of this side. Particularly owing to its being out of the mainstream crowd and with little activity going on, criminal-minded people can easily find space to operate –especially where one cannot afford to hire private security.
 

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Find royalty in Mengo
Friday, 20th May, 2011
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The Bulange complex at Mengo houses the buganda government and buganda parliament
By Titus Kakembo

AT 4,000 feet above sea level, Mengo is a hill steeped in political and religious history. Strategically positioned in a vantage point; Namirembe, Rubaga, Nakasero, Kibuli and Old Kampala hills are splashed with gold as the yellow sun rises in the morning.

The hills are hurriedly engaged in a staring contest and the blue sky grips the horizon in bare hugs before the disappearing green hills are depleted by the construction fray in the city.

Residents here have two universities namely Mutesa Royal University and Ndejje University Campus. Within the same proximity is Mengo Hospital, Rubaga Hospital and private clinics. Criminals sent to prison from Mengo court cannot forget this part of Kampala City.

The Central Broadcasting Station has its headquarters there.

Concerning the nightlife, patrons are trapped on bar counters at either Bamboo Spot or Maggies Pub. Pool, darts and gambling are gaining popularity at the royal grounds.

“Mengo is a Luganda noun for a grinding stone,” says a resident. Legend has it that, a long time ago, ancient migrant communities from Ssese Islands settled on these hills and used stones to grind food.

The place is royalty. The neighbourhood comprises Kabaka’s four square miles palace (Lubiri) and the magnificent Twekobe (Kabaka’s official residence).

Word has it that this Kabaka Anjagala Road (Royal Mile) is where King Frederick Mutesa learnt how to drive.

The 1900 Agreement between the Kabaka of Buganda and British colonial officials establishing Uganda as a Protectorate was signed in Mengo.

Not so far away is the Kabaka’s lake. This is the biggest of its kind in the country. The lake, like the pyramids of Egypt, was manually dug by Kabaka’s subjects in the 1880s following the orders of Kabaka Basamula Mwanga. His aim was to link it to the fabulous Munyonyo shores on Lake Victoria.

Mwanga, a staunch fan of regatta, a series of boat races, wanted to sail from Mengo to Munyonyo on his many hunting expeditions.

Today Mengo boasts of a variety of different species of birds.The history of Mengo hill is also entertwined with that of Namirembe hill, the seat of the Anglican Church in Uganda, because of the monarchy’s close association with the Church of England.

There is a green tiled house called Kisingili’s flat. It is a three-storied structure that was built more than 100 years ago. In its courtyard are turtles that have lived for more than a century. They came back with Kabaka Mwanga from the Seychelles islands where the British once exiled him.

Mengo’s proximity to Kampala city makes it the destination for civil servants, students, the business fraternity and tourists looking for accomodation. The quietness here, in comparison with what is down town Kampala makes Mengo desirable.

However, residents of Mengo have to leave for work early enough to beat the jam that lasts all day between Bakuli and Kampala or Katwe and down town Kampala. Taxi fare is sh1,000 from the city to Mengo and sh500 back to town. Cabs charge between sh10,000 and sh20,000 to get you there.

It all depends on one’s haggling skills.

A three bed-room flat in Mengo is tagged at sh800,000 and sh1m per month.

A self-contained bed sit goes for sh200,000 and above. Buying land is a very scarce opportunity in Mengo. Land owners may rent you a chunk of their property for some years after which the ownership reverts back to them.
 
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