In tonight’s news cast was a story about hawkers and those who buy from them getting arrested by the city authorities. From the look of things, not even foreign national were spared in this crackdown against, generally illegal selling points around the city. And apparently the ‘operations’ are to continue. The new authorities are sending a clear message all- a new order has come into force and thus new ways and attitudes must be adopted if one is to live in the city.
As one strolls through Kampala city now, hawkers and road side vendors that once cris crossed and lined up along Kampala’s roads hoping to make a sale are gradually becoming a thing of the past- the streets are no longer safe to do business!
I remember growing up in this city a couple of years ago and I can tell you it looked like a big village with some modernity in it. The only difference now is that it is transforming into a big town, not a city. Atleast not as yet. Kampala was characterised by seasonal lakes on it’s raods (pot holes), rubbish littered all over had become partof the image of the city not to mention the heavy traffic that terrorised the city residents- it still does though to a lesser extent because of the city roads are being worked on. In a nutshell, there was no sense of direction.
The new city care takers (Kampala City Authoriy) have given the city a much needed face lift that has gone along way in reshaping the city landscape and city life as a whole. Concerts have even been banned from the city centre. One needn’t travel far before the improved city infrastructure ranging from roads, street lights to the new buildings that have come up and changed the city sky line accentuates a changing Kampala. Albeit these achievements are some thing to write home about, the city has along way to go the meet world class city status.
A midst all the flowers and roses and water fountains that decorate Kampala’s landscape, Kampala is facing a serious problem one that involves mainly it’s political actors. Since the creation of the new city authority, many events have transpired over time. Most notably between the city Lord Mayor and the Executive director. This has played out in form of anti-government demostrations in the city followed by police clearing these gatherings heavy handedly. Political actors being put under house arrest including the Lord Mayor. Back and forth court procedings between the Lord Mayor and the central government in an attempt to establish who makes decisions regarding what in Kampala have ceased to be news. The new city authorites don’t seem to be on the same page.
With all the above challenges in the background, small gains are being registered by the new city administration but more would be achieved with a unified and more co-operative administration.
City dwellers keep hoping that they too, no matter their social status, will have a place in the new Kampala so that they can tap into the vast opportunities that are in this big town, sorry- city.