The Rise Of Shanty Towns In Uganda: Why They Could Soon Turn Into A Catastrophe

Kampala slum4
Living standards in one of Kampala’s slums

There is an alarming rate of development of slums in many parts of this country . . .  

Moreover, with the apparent mismanagement of land in this country, by the powers that be, and the lukewarm [corrupt and ineffective] style of leadership within the very vital government institutions, one can’t help but wonder whether this whole mess is any sort of concern for the people at the helm of public administration!

Of course, the population explosion [given the high birth rate, influx of refugees — some of which crawl and fuse with the indigenous residents] is responsible for the vastly spreading urbanization.

Likewise, the controlled [infant and maternal] mortality rates, as well as the increasing rural-urban migrations [in search for jobs and better standards of living] are yet other factors bumping up the trend.

But as it turns out, the expansion of the urban is always inevitable as the dangers adjacent to it.. . . . 

Sadly the Ministry of Housing is not only quiet, but stark still and indifferent; meanwhile we are slowly becoming a country full of shanty towns!

Here is the snag; if we be not attentive enough, we [and our children] are glaring at a housing catastrophe that we won’t be able to save ourselves from in the near future – we are likely to pay a very huge price for being indifferent to this whole spiral.

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Since when was it okay, in public health, for one to buy or sell a piece of land enough for just a two-roomed house, hardly space left for a latrine or any site for dumping the house refuse? Let alone space for an access road, front yard or veranda!

A plot of 100ft by 50ft, in today’s Uganda, is fragmented into at least four or more pieces. Unsolicited property merchants are screwing us into this ordeal yet we [and our leadership] continue to be dead to the cause.

If one should think that selling or buying such pieces of land helps solve any problems, they are solemnly wet behind the ears; this fragmentation is problematic and it is only fermenting mushrooms of slums — which will be making us scratch our heads in just a short lag.

The recent KCCA evictions were a perfect harbinger of whatever is on the horizon; it will cost us socially, politically and government will pay a great deal to make it right – whether in combating crime, disease, or in resettlements. It is torment in waiting – more so for the generations to come.

Government ought to come out now to solve the land question conclusively rather than merely fix the odds and ends of the land laws. It seems only logical to face the music of land squabbles now than defer it – to have the hullabaloo all the same, a pile of lawsuits in court, evictions, assaults…. Obviously with an ugly-looking panorama of our towns.

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What’s more, we do not want to deal with devastations of infectious diseases again; slummy living is the number one precursor for this. As such, slums must be quelled; their growth is not inevitable.

Only indifference has capacity to incubate the health hazard; with such as the unsolicited influx of immigrants into the country, our populace could soon be entangled in serious pestilences – including Cholera and Ebola.

At this point, a master physical plan for the entire country would come in handy. The land boards, public health inspectors, engineers and NIRA at the Local Council levels should be busy implementing some sort of order in this country’s emerging towns.

Otherwise it is such a shame that lives and property have been lost time and again because fire gutted some place and rescue police [fire fighters] had no passage to the venue. Think of a situation when you want to transport your sick or your bulky household items but you can’t…

This entire nuisance moreover is just a tip of the iceberg.

All this absurdity shouldn’t be happening as if there are no government officers paid on taxpayers’ toil, to guide people on public health principles and practices… there should be no such thing as flooding in Bwaise, Kisenyi, Kalerwe…

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