By Rukiya Makuma
Located at the foot of Nakasero hill, Nakasero Market had become famous for the daily heap of garbage that lay unattended to with a swarm of flies hovering between the rubbish and the fruits displayed for sale.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays would be terrible for road users because the dirt spread down to Old Taxi Park when farmers brought in their crop produce.
Emmanuel Kintu, the Secretary for Nakasero Market, remembers that on such days, the market administration would spend between Shs400,000 and Shs500,000 cleaning and disposing of the garbage. On other days the cost would fall to between Shs240,000 and Shs350,000. This ugly sight was replicated in Kamwokya, Nakawa, Kalerwe markets and others around the city.
The populace had resigned to fate of living with the stench. However, with the coming into office of Jennifer Musisi Semakula, the new Executive Director of Kampala City Council, this fate is changing.
During her first appearance before the press on May 9, one thing was clear- transforming the city and ridding it of the chronic choking filth. She immediately got to work. She increased funding for garbage collection for the city’s five divisions from Shs1.5m to Shs2.5m daily. She also pledged to review the existing functions of the Council, restructure the staff for better service delivery and review the Contracts Committee to ensure value for money.
Kintu says because of KCC’s increased funding, Nakasero Market’s daily cost on garbage collection has dropped to Shs160,000 and the market much cleaner than before. The City Council sends a truck to pick garbage daily. But he cites occasions when the garbage truck delays and appeals that the truck increases from one route to at least two a day.
Musisi has promised more is coming. Within the first four months upon coming into office, she has evicted the recalcitrant former city mayor Ntege Sebaggala from the City Council house and has already put on notice the coordinator of intelligence services Gen. David Tinyefuza to vacate another Council house in Kololo or face a similar fate. She has opened a CID contact office at City Hall for timely detection of corruption and fraud in the Council, unearthed 12 ghost bank accounts holding more than Shs20 billion. It’s no mean feat in such a short time.
Kintu says Musisi has scored highly on garbage collection and people are waiting for her to also deliver on repair and maintenance of the pathetic city roads.
Janet Namubiru, a tomato vendor in Nakasero market, says Musisi has a lot of challenges to handle but she must get her priorities right. The taxi parks are in abhor able condition and the roads are choking with potholes which can pass for small dams when it rains heavily. It’s to early to declare her a heroine or villain, but certainly she has an enormous task ahead.
Musisi has to defuse the brewing storm from the city councillors who have been foaming at the mouth since she froze and centralised the City Divisions accounts.
She also rejected their call for a pay rise, citing low revenue collections and she determined how much each councillor would earn. The councillors are miffed for they contend that the mandate to set their pay lies with the Minister for Kampala, not Musisi.
However, Simon Rugadya Muhummuza, the City Council Public Relations Officer, counters that the councillors are ignorant of the law. He says the law gives the KCC Executive Director powers to determine how finances are disbursed because she is the accounting officer.
Although under the Kampala City Council Authority Act councillors can make by-laws and policies, Muhummuza says such laws must be approved by the Executive Director. He says the Council is organising an induction programme for the councillors to make them familiar with the new law.
Musisi is yet to resolve the public transport dilemma in Kampala.
Musisi says the challenge of the taxi parks is a complex one. She says KCCA cannot repair the taxi parks because the disputed ownership of the parks must be sorted out before any works are done.
During the Media Breakfast at Kampala Serena Hotel, which coincided with her 100 days in office, Musisi said she has faced numerous challenges in the exercise of her duties. To-date she has no minister, no management, no directors, no deputies, no technical team and no staff. Yet she has to run the city to reasonable satisfaction of the public. She is among the few whose working day starts at 3am and ends at 11pm every day. But each passing day, a new load is added onto her shoulder.
On July 28, the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Works and Transport handed over to her the maintenance and supervision of city roads, which were previously under the ministry’s docket. The Naguru/Nakawa evictions are over. Her next task is to purge out the structures at Centenary Park, a wetland that has been ruthlessly converted into one of Kampala’s top entertainment spots and the fight with Tinyefuza is still raging. Going by the theme under which she passed the Shs174 billion 2011/12 financial budget: “Institutional Transformation for Better Service Delivery of Public Goods and Services”, she still has a long way ahead of her. She has five years to prove her worth.And the public is judge.