By Denis Jjuuko
The bath tab or sink is designed in a way that it has a small outlet. So if you leave the water tap open, the outlet at its bottom will not be able to drain water fast enough to avoid an overflow. I am not sure why the makers of bath tabs and sinks don’t think of bigger outlets after all you can close and open it as you wish.
Anyway, the sink design came to mind last week when I drove on the new Entebbe Expressway from Kajjansi to Munyonyo. If this were a sink or bath tab, Kajjansi town would be the tap, the Expressway the sink or bath tab and the Munyonyo Junction the outlet. Once you reach the Munyonyo Junction, you will appreciate that whoever designs and/or plans Kampala’s infrastructure is the same guy that designs your sink or bath tab. The outlet at Munyonyo won’t be able to ‘drain’ vehicles from Entebbe fast enough to avoid an overflow. The designer/planner must be still thinking of an ingenious way to make a bigger outlet, just like the kitchen sink guys.
The Entebbe Expressway was meant to decongest Entebbe Road and quicken the drive time from Kampala to Entebbe. Yet this is not the first time our planners have borrowed from the sink designers. When Entebbe Road was first expanded, they created a sink outlet at Zanna. So from Kibuye, they created a dual carriageway (two lanes into each direction) that ends two or so kilometres away at Zanna where it turns into a single carriage (one lane in each direction). People celebrated the Kibuye-Zanna dual carriage yet in a few years, we realized that the bride had applied make up without bathing first. The same design has been used at Munyonyo.
This design is already increasing traffic in Munyonyo to the extent that some people have had to adjust the time they arrive in town to avoid traffic. And unless the road from Munyonyo to Kampala is expanded or public transport is considered, Munyonyo is going to be the next Entebbe Road in terms of traffic. If you are buying a property in Munyonyo, beware.
If you drive in greater Kampala, you will see many areas that were previously villages where Kampalans visited for burial and farming becoming residential areas. The urban planning guys aren’t moving at the same pace as Kampala’s expansion. So vehicular traffic in greater Kampala is going to continue to be a challenge that will cripple growth for the entire country. Urban planners still approve construction in spaces that will be needed for freeways in a few years time.
Affordable public transport could be a solution. Entrepreneurs, for example, can be facilitated to introduce about 2,000 buses in Kampala. By facilitation I don’t mean raiding the treasury and giving some “tenderprenuer” money to procure buses rather by, for example, government committing that all government employees at a certain pay grade will be given monthly prepaid cards or points to use on the buses. This would save government a lot of money they currently spend on transporting their workers. Imagine if the majority of workers whose duty stations are in greater Kampala used public means. The workers would actually become more productive because they wouldn’t arrive at work so tired after spending many hours in traffic or walking to work.
Also, government needs to start compensating landowners today to create space for freeways. Land is cheaper today than it will be tomorrow and since we all buy land, government should never think of taking it for free for infrastructure or any projects. Once significant road reserves have been secured, a lane or two could easily be added anytime whenever it is needed.
I remember when South Africa was awarded the rights to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup; they decided to expand the freeway from Joburg to Pretoria. There were no buildings that were razed down by gigantic bulldozers. The freeway had a significant road reserve. I think even today, they can still expand it without breaking anything. And I believe that is cheaper. Government can easily issue an infrastructure bond to get money to compensate landowners today for freeways that maybe built 20 years later. It is called long-term planning.
Lastly, government could offer tax deductions to any private company that puts a significant number of its employees on the monthly public transport prepaid pay cards. That way, we may solve lots of our Kampala traffic challenges.
The writer is a communication and visibility consultant. email@example.com