In Kampala City, commercial premises rental charges are pegged between US 10 and US 28,9 dollars per square meter. It’s an equivalent of Shs 20’000/- and Shs 60’000/- per square meter. The figures given above are exclusive of value added tax of 18% and the so-called utility (electricity, water) fees that range between 5% and 15% of total rental charges of the premises space.
The charges are irrespective of location of commercial premises and Asians own majority buildings.
Any sort of rentable commercial premises, putting into consideration human needs for adequate space and ergonomic requirements will be not less than 20 square meters (6 sq feet). If that were the pre-condition, for all rented commercial and office space in all Uganda’s urban centres, then for every Uganda business person, it will cost him or her between Shs 400’000 (US 200 $) and Shs 1’200’000 (US 600 $) every month in regard to ruling rental charges.
The charges are paid in dollars for all buildings owned by Uganda Asians.
In essence, those are the charges paid for office space whether down town or in high profile locations of the city. Unfortunately, majority Uganda Africans have no ability whatsoever, to foot such rental charges every month. The reason why many urban dwellers have their business on streets or non-business gazetted areas.
Integrated Development Research and Consultancy (IDR&C) in course of its duties, discovered recently, a good majority of Uganda Africans irrespective of their business, cultural, economic and social status were located in basically dilapidated and squalid environments i.e. areas around Nakivubo stadium. An area referred to as Kampala business district, filled with mud, dirty storm and sewerage water, congestion, filthy and highly polluted William, Johnstone, Luwum, Burton, Nakivubo place, Entebbe, Nakasero, Nkrumah and Ben Kiwanuka Streets.
It had been established; Uganda Africans are vacating all prime land and property now taken over by foreigners (Arabs, Asians) and being squeezed into one city corner. For IDR&C, the conditions that are prevailing and generating such conditions in Kampala City were not readily understood then. We set ourselves to investigate the circumstance and reasons that have generated such society structuring.
Among our study were the following;
a. The Social Structure of Property ownership in Kampala City
b. Rental charges per square meter of commercial office space
c. Mode of payment like in what currency
d. Social clustering in given areas of Kampala city
e. Utility and amenity provisions in respective studied areas
f. Urban and social planning differences and similarities
g. Slumisation and ghettorisation of Kampala and its causes
Sample studies done in Jinja and Mbarara reflect similar problems. Other towns, which had originally Asian property ownership, might be facing the same difficulties as Kampala since they have similar structural and organisational patterns.
As we write now; Bombo, Kampala-Jinja roads are boundaries demarcating “Native” Ugandans Kampala from Asians and Arabs Kampala. The Asians and Arabs have taken over the entire upper part of Bombo, Kampala-Jinja roads. They buy or lease off buildings and raise rental charges and Africans are thrown into the streets.
The method used is very simple; Uganda business people can’t afford to pay dollar-pegged rental charges, since their earnings are very modest. When the dollar appreciates the business space for buildings owned by Asians automatically goes up. Resources starved Ugandans are therefore, relegated to filthy and dirty environs around the old taxi park were, they are now finding solace.
As a result, Uganda African business acumen has been confined and discouraged naturally. Young upcoming business Uganda Africans have got no chance to join the modern business world into such environment not because of lack of ability, talent and will.
Unfortunately nothing has been done to assist, resource starved Ugandans, with commercial and residential housing facility into predominately African enclaves. Further still, provisions for proper urban planning that brings about necessities for essential utilities and amenities, is totally lacking in all our urban centres.
As result, areas from the old taxi park; west, south and northwards are speedily becoming a mixture of typical slum areas and when upgraded revert to typical ghettoes with a mismatch of high-rise buildings, erected in the most disastrous manner.
Reasons for the above development in our study, reveals that where the government has erred by not guiding and providing provisions namely; financial support to urban planning authority, guiding physical planning, placement of public utilities, schools and health care centres inclusive, Uganda Africans have collapsed back into what they basically conceptualise as organised planning. It is the sole reason Uganda is basically a large slum.
Nakasero hill as many other prime land in the city was degazetted from a residential to commercial area against the protestation of professional and expert advice.
Kampala City Council technical personnel, it is alleged, had proposed a grounded study of Nakasero environment plus its suitability for commercial schemes. Our source confided that a technical report was written but outright rejected by those who thought of benefiting from the bounty by change of use of Nakasero hill.
Nakasero hill can accommodate much more buildings, if for example residential were remodelled to commercial facilities. However it requires grounded scientific studies, first to absorb the amount of buildings suitable for its relief and futures. Nakasero is hilly.
Nakasero as any other part of Kampala lack proper drainage, water and sewer
facilities, clear road network, utilities and amenities for proper human habitation. Changing it to commercial use, will therefore strain the already precarious situation the area was suffering from, after years of neglect.
Notice too that what happens at Nakasero Hill affects the conditions down town. Indeed too much storm water is ending up where more Africans are located that is the areas around the old taxi park. Location of more hotels into the area has meant Nakasero is becoming the red light district of Kampala city. Hence more adventurous foreigners are seeking out Nakasero as their exclusive hide out. Future prospects for Nakasero hills are grime.
Current situation shows that once exclusive, bungalows have been turned into restaurants, clubhouses and other commercial facilities against the ruling building regulation and urban laws. Indeed, changes made arbitrarily in plan areas i.e. Nakasero hill endanger the very population, the system is intending to help out of sheer helplessness.
For instance buildings, which were designed as residential facilities becoming hotels and restaurants without proper modification i.e. ventilation system, proper toilet facilities (most have sceptic tanks) and not connected to major sewer lines contravenes public health laws.
The consequences are very clear, one of them being, surface and underground
water pollution, social segregation, social classing – reminiscent of the colonial years where Nakasero was exclusively designated for European residences, is again an emerging pattern.
Intensification of poverty
Poverty takes on many forms, one being poverty of knowledge. Naturally, people learn from each other, their social and natural environment. It will be noted that many buildings of high-class value are coming up exclusively around the crested towers creating a restricted isolated zone, of high class Ugandans from their fellow low status citizens.
Where the above conditions obtains, besides segregation, there is a clear sociological pattern emerging – poverty of knowledge reflected in building design and patterns. Notably, Uganda Africans in their rudimentary efforts, are settings up their own buildings in Old Taxi-Park – Nakivubo area.
Proper building designs are exclusively designated in particular areas of Kampala while Africans are being starved off knowledge in modern environmental and building design. Buildings have a life span and a human face, for they serve human needs and wants.
It is therefore imprudent, for the state of affairs to be allowed to arise in Kampala City for the consequences, even though could be envisioned; the social reaction might be totally unpredictable.
Already, from Ben Kiwanuka Street near Bombo Road (Grand Imperial Hotel), upwards Nakasero hill all the way to Hotel African there has developed a hotel corridor. Exactly in the same manner as Kansanga up Muyenga hill is reverting to typical African drink joints and third world guesthouse chain facilities laced with shacks, churches and third world schools, less of the most basic modern utilities.
The sociology of criminality will not allow such a development, for it implies certain behavioural patterns will emerge around those very areas that will in the end cost huge amounts of money to rectify in the future.
In fact, petty criminality is basically to be found in such areas going by news reporting on policing activities.
Had planning been the modus operandi, there would have been spatial spread of activities and buildings, from the above mentioned areas to mitigate concentration of negative effects such as rudimentary placement of hotels, bars and guest houses the present state of affairs occasions.
In a sentence, there are two worlds, far apart emerging – one typical of the very rich Asians and their African subordinates and one for the lowly of our society the typical African Ugandan –the natives. These worlds are far too apart to feed each other to generate new experiences and knowledge – hence the poverty of knowledge.
Ownership of Kampala City
It is apparently clear that many buildings in Kampala were set-up by Uganda Asian under conditions that favoured them against Ugandans of African up bringing. Such conditions were based on systematic segregation, its consequences are clearly known and well documented.
The one who own the numerous buildings, own Kampala City. The economic wealth and power brought about by such enormous wealth can therefore compromise an state institution and urban planning authorities that can only look on helplessly as the executive dishes out more of the city to thugs and lawbreakers.
In a period of forty years, since this nation got independence, not more than ten buildings have been erected whether for public or for commercial use. Where the circumstances have been on the positive – buildings are donations to the government of Uganda by foreign governments.
No wonder, the taxpayer established and funded Nation Housing Construction Corporation (NHCC) went to paying war debts this government owes to the Gaddafi’s Libya!
When Asian properties were repossessed, no clear urban policy were put in place to rectify embedded problems that generated resentment against Uganda Asian subsequently leading to successive Uganda governments, formulating policies, which where implemented in 1970s leading to Uganda Asians expulsion.
Our study shows that many buildings in Kampala are actually owned by Asians, some resident others non-residents. The leading owner is Crane Management Services Ltd followed by Property Services located at Crane chambers and Garden City respectively. Many such buildings hardly have meaningful African Uganda businesses. All of them are gradually being abandoned and vacated by African Uganda businesses, under the wait of dollar paged rate charges.
As if Ugandans have not learnt from history, exactly the same mistakes of the past are emerging whereby majority Uganda Africans are being driven to the urban periphery. Major focal points in the city are once again becoming exclusive preserve of Asians, Arabs and other foreigners who are financially well endowered.
Responsibility, squarely lies with the nrm government that has neglected African Ugandans to such an extent that public buildings like the former Uganda Commercial Banks now Cham Towers, have been sold once again to Asians where Africans could have so easily set-up major commercial offices under a public –private partnership.
Secondly government policy has been hostile to its own people, the natives i.e. Uganda house is starved of business, a majestic building that once housed the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development ministry, for merely political reasons. On the other side crane building that was built against proper building regulations was offered to house the Ministry of Justice institutions offices for years!
Thirdly, the government of Uganda instead of propping up the Nation Housing
Construction Corporation (NHCC), it instead exchanged it for war debts, a company that would be in business to help the “natives” African Ugandans in the construction of both residential and commercial business premises necessary in the fight against poverty of all forms.
Nation Housing Construction Corporation would in fact be working hand in and with urban planning authority. This government in its primitive manner of accumulating wealth went on a begging tour in China and America to solicit fund to start private building agencies!
Fourthly the government has deliberately run down all urban planning authorities including Kampala City council. KCC has no ability what so ever to; manage, design, remodel and later plan an increasingly congested city.
Planning in Kampala City, has therefore been left at the desecration of the
State House at Nakasero and respective Asian and Arab investors helped with Uganda Investment Authority. It is preciously for this reason Mukwano built a factory in a wetland; the crane group of companies can break national laws and build in a wetland at the same time releasing sewerage in communities in Bukoto
Fifthly this government is above the laws it legislates and breaks them too. Interestingly no native will break a law and go free as compared to the moneyed class of Asians.
Sixthly Uganda government has neglected and turned a blind eye to potential Natives in Uganda with potential business acumen. This group is not given legal support in matters of planning and designing of business environment.
For that matter intensification of corruption has been away of beating the status quo hence couldn’t be avoided, as potential native businessmen and women have to find away through a family like state government institutions.
The situation had never been worse. The British regimes made sure that they made the native in Uganda taste the goodies of a modern world. They set up commercial and public facilities in their efforts to civilise the native this government has completely abandoned.
The natives are enraged, the ecological, social and economic will be terrible when rage turns into helplessness. As I write the natives are in a more desperate situation and point of no return.
Bwanika, Nakyesawa Luwero