Whichever direction you approach Kampala from during day you can’t fail to notice the air of a growing city. You see new buildings springing across hills and valleys, at night, you won’t be blamed for seeing nothing – Kampala is a dark city!
For the past few years, when Kampala was put under the leadership of an Authority, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), there has been a lot of improvement. Many roads have been re-paved, garbage collection is 1000 times better than before, and there is better order in construction – at least many road reserves have been cleared of illegal structures. The area of lighting, however, is still lacking.
A common observation is that Kampala has two areas visibly demarcated by Kampala Road. The area between the Constitutional Square and Yusufu Lule Road at least has some sparse lights that make it a bit visible at night. This is where you find the Parliamentary Building, several ministry headquarters, State House and major hotels like Serena and Sheraton.
The area below Kampala Road is too dark, with street lights that stopped working decades ago. Between the Constitutional Square and Nakivubo Mews it is hard to tell whether this area has ever had lights at night, yet it is more populated than the upper area.
Here you find busy streets including Sinybin, Amiriha, Sirk Street, Luwum and William streets. All the shopping malls, arcades and supermarkets in this area are surrounded by darkness.
KCCA is currently installing solar powered lights to replace the old ones but this will serve only to slightly reduce the darkness in the city. Most of Kampala will stay unlit.
KCCA Deputy Spokesperson Robert Kalumba says that Kampalans are actually part of the problem. “We have a limited budget but the major problem is vandalism. Those who steal our poles, cables and bulbs make it difficult for us to serve the city,” Kalumba says.
In the new lighting arrangement, 750 new solar lights will replace 500 lights along major city streets. Areas to be lit up include the Constitutional Square, Entebbe Road from Kampala Road to Kibuye Round about, Jinja Road (before Kitgum House, and from Nakawa to Banda), Katwe Road from Kibuye Round about to Quality Chemicals, Kintu Road (From Sheraton Hotel to Crested Towers), Kyagwe Road, Mukwano Road and Speke Road.
And for city suburbs, places like Nakulabye, Kasubi, Kyebando Mulago, Kawempe Bwaise, Natete, Kireka and Banda.
However seeing Kampala lit up along the streets might take some good time.