UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | President Museveni has directed the Ministry of Finance to “urgently” release at least USh6 billion to help work on Kampala potholes, in response to ‘protests’ by Ugandans on social media over the poor state of Kampala’s roads.
Residents began taking to social media with the hashtag #KampalaPotholeExhibition this week, to share images of the city’s many potholes that have become a major problem for motorists.
The exhibition is the brainchild of Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo, an academic, writer, and cartoonist who launched the campaign to shame those responsible for maintaining the roads.
Against the backdrop of these ‘protests’ President Museveni, while speaking at State House in Entebbe on Wednesday, said he had been informed that only 30% of the money required to maintain roads in Kampala had been released this financial year. As a result, the roads outside the African Development Bank project have degraded to a deplorable state.
“I now direct the Ministry of Finance to urgently release the quarterly contribution to KCCA of USh6 billion for pothole filling, repairs and maintenance of roads,” the President said.
“I task the Kampala Executive Director and her team to give the country an account of progress in this matter,” he added
In an emergency press briefing the day prior, Dorothy Kisaka, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Executive Director, acknowledged the problem, but said they don’t have funds to fill the potholes.
“KCCA needs anywhere between USh75 – 100 billion annually in order to be able to effectively maintain our roads and yet we get only USh26 billion for this task,” Kisaka said.
According to the KCCA, the road cavities amount to 8,500 sq m (91,493 sq ft) in area, however KCCA’s ability to tackle the problem is crippled by budget limitations
“KCCA is facing challenges with budgets. This situation is not only affecting KCCA but most ministries, departments and agencies which too have had to scale back their activities. Unfortunately for KCCA, the services we are supposed to provide such as road and drainage maintenance to avert the current situation of poor roads and flooding are in the full view of everyone hence the constant frontline criticism,” Kisaka added.
Dr Ssentongo’s Exhibition aims to draw attention to the dangers of the potholes and the fact that residents pay taxes to local government such as property rates and business licence fees for the roads to be maintained.
The potholes have become such a problem that some have turned the photos into memes with graphics added – like ships sailing across potholes or people chilling on the beach, complete with palm trees, next to other ones.
— Dr Otile Jacob (@DrOtileUg) April 20, 2023
The florid descriptions accompanying the images, including details such as a pothole’s age, might be satirical, but they also point to how long a particular road has been in bad shape. Some potholes feel like they have become permanent geographical features, creating a series of mini-lakes whenever it rains.
— Erone Mpologoma (@EroneMpologoma) April 18, 2023
The KCCA is responsible for the city’s road maintenance and has been filling the potholes up with a clay-like soil called murram. However, the piles of soil cannot withstand the heavy rainy season, and the murram gets washed away, as can be seen in some of the tweets.
— Jim Spire Ssentongo (@SpireJim) April 19, 2023
The KCCA has stated that the roads are “due for overhaul… which explains the high prevalence of potholes and other road damages”. The situation has not been helped by the increased traffic levels on the roads, which in turn causes increased wear and tear.
Dr Ssentongo’s online “exhibition” is meant to last for a week, and he is considering running a weekly pothole award in the future.
With the authorities being less than tolerant of protests on the streets, many feel this is an innovative way for Dr Ssentongo to address the issue, and so far, no one has been arrested for photographing a pothole.
— Kstan (@Kstan_28) April 19, 2023
Some online critics have said that the exhibition might affect tourism by keeping potential visitors away from the country. However, analyst Ivan Rugambwa disagrees, saying that the #KampalaPotholeExhibition is a patriotic act of citizen agency to draw attention to the sorry state of the capital so that those charged with the responsibility to fix it can do so.
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