In an extensive interview in New Vision on Monday 25th April 2016, ED KCCA has given us her view of the achievements of KCCA in the past five years.
Sitting here at Kanjokya Street, looking at that clogged water drain and the potholes carved out over a month ago by KCCA team, I can’t help but wonder why this otherwise smart lady doesn’t see the world through Kampalans’ eyes.
I agree, five years ago she was put into an organisation that was hugely corrupt. Today, comments I hear are that it isn’t so bad any more. She implemented some fantastic solutions like eCitie – which I praised endlessly during the judging of the last ACIA awards because it was one of the most complex and innovative (in our Ugandan terms) application of the year. Also, the train we waited for five years since the first promise, happened! It is allegedly still operating – I haven’t been so can’t confirm, though I want to make a round trip one of these days, just for the nostalgic experience of travelling by train.
Then, mentions of proper systems being put in place to run the KCCA administration; audit to list the assets, improvement in revenue collection, developing schools and hospitals together with partners, increase in revenue collection, increase in garbage collection, arresting non-compliant citizens, investing in youth groups, developing markets etc. All said in the interview is positive and excellent – but is it enough?
On reading the interview the second and the third time, I understood where Jenny draws the sense of achievement. Indeed, administratively and internally, KCCA must have transformed in some sense. I hear there are daily prayers, the place is very clean (although two cleaners asked me for a job), security is checking visitors, there are even a few places to sit. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to sit on a bench in the courtyard because the bench was planted on grass and we all know how touchy KCCA is about stepping on grass – so I stood on the walkway until I was assured by an elderly employee it’s okay to sit on the bench.
You can see things are looking up at KCCA by glancing at the parking yard – all spots are full. Gone are the days you could park at the side parking to go to DFCU, also gone are the days your RAV4 looked decent among he buddies – now it looks shabby and old among all the spanking shiny wheels. So indeed things are better.
Let me not miss to say that everyone is looking so smart, especially if they follow Jenny to a meeting or a presentation to donors: You can easily mistake the team for the cast of LA Law or something, walking confidently, boldly, one step behind Jenny, one person carrying her documents, another with the handbag and the third with phones and tablets, while at least one is circling around the group with a good-sized digital camera, zoom and stuff in tow. That’s how we be, all sassy and all documented for posterity.
Also mentioned in the interview is the City Festival where businesses and partners put together some 1 billion shillings to make it happen for Kampala. A real cool party where everyone is invited but only a few benefit from.
About two weeks before the KCCA interview, I tweeted this photo. My humble evaluation of Jenny’s 5 years in office. Or – what has KCCA done to change Kampalans’ pain points and what are the respective results. Here’s what I was thinking: let me list what pains us the most and let me express a sincere opinion – is it now better, worse or the same as five years ago?
Slums are continuously growing and getting more populated. Not one of our slums was identified as a pilot project for resettlement, urbanisation, infrastructure improvement, build of planned sanitation system, relocation, paving or anything of the sort. Most densely populated areas in Kampala remain filthy and hopeless and – there is no hint that anything good will ever happen to them. On the issue of slums, it’s a fail.
Garbage is overflowing where it never used to. Burning of garbage happens daily from Mukono to Kololo, irrespective of whether the residence is posh or poor. Everyone trying to save the little money by polluting the already heavily polluted air in Kampala. This is directly connected to education – actually the lack of it. KCCA had no communication plan or campaign that will address the issue of educating residents of Kampala on how to sort and dispose their garbage. Besides, garbage collectors should be the ones to make money from sales of recyclable materials. Regarding recycling – KCCA had made zero effort to sensitise, publicise or enable citizens to participate in caring for their environment. Shortlisting and zoning garbage collectors is simply not enough and does not equal to service delivery.
We registered boda-bodas and then? What? Did we ascertain their riding capabilities? Did we ensure they have two helmets? Did we issue them with stages and areas where they can operate? Did we inspect their bikes for safety features? Did we create a call and despatch centre to enable customers call professionally trained and licensed boda-bodas? Did we mark the lanes for boda-bodas? Did we mark the no-boda zones? Did we train boda-bodas not to drive against the traffic, not to turn or stop abruptly in front of vehicles, not to stop in corners or on zebra crossings, not to block gates, roads and passages? Yet this is the most-efficient mode of transport we have in Kampala. Now, a total failure associated with road accidents, deaths, mugging, rape and many other negative things that happen in our city.
Traffic, ah traffic. Does it come as a surprise that a thousand or more new cars that monthly arrive to Uganda will hit our roads in Kampala? Some of our old Kampala cars will be sold to run as specials in villages but most will stay here. The man needs a car, his madam needs a car, his side dish(es) needs a car and so on. Gone are the days when a reasonably-to-do family will have a family car, period. Have our roads widened, multiplied, self-healed in the past five years? What about escape routes? Northern Bypass is as slow as DeWinton Road. Till now, all roads lead to city centre – which you almost always have to travel through, no matter where you’re going.
Enforcement of laws is done only by the principle of the stronger. If it’s a woman selling mivumba or a child selling bananas, let’s send them to Luzira or push them under a moving car. But if it’s a mogul grabbing school land or keeping the hoarding around his hotel construction site for ten years, let’s leave them. If it’s kafunda and boutique owners grabbing the only green park in the city, we love them! If it’s a construction site that collapses and kills people – ‘We told them!’ Enforcement is non-existent and we all know what happens to a city where laws are not respected. No wonder street vendors sell more and more toilet paper these days as we are sinking deeper into it.
Roads and pavements – I scored this with a hint of improvement. Indeed there is one new road I enjoyed a few times and it came with a pavement – that one from Wankulukuku to Nateete. Drainage was done as an afterthought but at least the road is there and it’s really nice, a good diversion out of town towards Entebbe when Clog Tower is impassable. But Lugogo Bypass has remnants of pavements eaten by grass, bushes and erosion yet it is a pathway for thousands of schoolchildren that have no option but to walk on this fast and busy road, hoping that boda-bodas and the rest of the traffic will have mercy and miss them. Priorities are not in place, there is no maintenance of pavements and walkways in these specific areas around schools, hospitals etc.
For the number of cars that have to come into the city, there is no improvement in the parking system or increase in the number of parking spaces. There is no education about parking – why you should park the car and not double-park and block the street. This compared to the need – the number of cars that need to park, is another poor performance mark. Even though we will soon get our first parking house opposite Blacklines House where Mugisha Barbers used to be, I doubt this will solve the deeper parking problem in Kampala. Leave aside I had to park in the bowels of Mabirizi Plaza the other day and I am still deeply scarred by that experience. So a long way to go.
Jenny, darling, seems you were focused on internal KCCA issues and cosmetics (first thing you did was to rebrand, last think you did was to run a contest in New Vision for designing your Carnival dress). You have grown an impressive PR machinery that eats well and writes very nice tweets and Facebook posts. Photos are stunning. You are also the Editor in Chief of the Kampala Steward Magazine where you also appear in some very nice pictures. So PR is not new to you but you need to understand it is used as support, not as the main act.
To quote you, Jenny: “Transformation is a journey, not an event. Step-by-step, day-by-day, working with you, Kampala is being transformed.” You block all your critics on social media, depriving yourself and your entire team of the opportunity to hear a different opinion. I say entire team because the guy who handles your Twitter accounts goes blocking people on all of them at once. So no point in saying you work with people because you don’t. You work with your team, the hand-picked ‘yes, ma’am’ crew who don’t care about this city. See your main PR guy sitting comfortably on the commemoration stone – a thing you wouldn’t do anywhere in the world, going to show the level of respect for our past.
What do we get? More floods, more garbage, more pollution, more traffic, More theft, more insecurity, more diseases, and indeed more of every single catastrophe that is mounting on Kampala on a daily basis. For that, I profusely thank you but – NO, THANK YOU Jenny.
**** Images refused to place themselves in proper orientation so forgive me if you get a stiff neck.****