Sunday, February 25, 2024

PAUL SSENABULYA: SFC and The Pot Holes of Kampala City

This past week the Special Forces Command (SFC) a special army of the UPDF tasked with the security of the president was in the news after landing a lucrative deal to fix the pot holes in Uganda’s capital. It was until April this year that pot holes became a serious issue that forced those in power to run to fix the mess.

The Kampala Pothole under the hashtag #Kampalapotholeexhibition started by Cartoonist Dr Spire Sentongo, netizens posted pot holed roads with in their area codes. This topic trended for a full week and forced president Museveni to order for release of cash to fix the potholes in the city.

Just like UPDF which has the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) as its business arm running several businesses of the army and recently rolled out a private security company to provide private security services for individuals, organizations and institutions, seems the SFC too is also joining in to do business and not only focus on the security of the president.

The president few months ago ordered that key projects in the health and education ministries regarding construction should be awarded to UPDF. Indeed UPDF’s NEC is currently doing renovation works on the Mandela National Stadium, the same NEC is undertaking the construction of the Kiira Motors plant in Jinja and we may soon see the UPDF immunizing Ugandans, invigilating exams, collecting taxes among other key sectors in the country.

While preparing for the Common Wealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007, the country experienced some infrastructural upgrades mostly in Kampala just like a home can get a facelift while preparing for special visitors. It’s the same case now as Uganda prepares for two important summits the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and G77 which are set to be hosted in Kampala early next year.

Media reports suggested the SFC had landed a Shs2b deal to fix the ever-growing pot holes in the city of Kampala. The pot holes are as a result of old roads which have gone years without being maintained or roads that need to be reconstructed. Fixing them with soil or patches of tarmac can’t be a lasting solution because other ‘young’ pot holes will emerge and also transform into ‘adult’ pot holes to hamper transport in the city.

This leaves questions on whether Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) doesn’t have the machinery to fix these potholes especially those in the industrial area which are about to transform into ‘dams ‘and may soon harbor fish and animals like crocodiles which will be dangerous to the residents in the city.

Speaker Anita Among two days ago directed KCCA to speed up the road works ahead of another important summit set to be held in Kampala in January next year. She urged the authority to do the repairs on Kampala roads such that visitors coming for the Speaker’s Common Wealth Conference don’t find the pot holes in the city as if it is only visitors who deserve good roads and not tax payers.

The pot hole fixing deal offered to the SFC by KCCA didn’t leave the Lord Mayor Elias Lukwago who immediately ordered the soldiers off Kampala roads claiming they don’t have the machinery and expertise needed to fix these unpredictable potholes. The Lord Mayor came out fast and furious after seeing Museveni’s son Muhoozi inspecting the roads in Kampala alongside a handful of KCCA bosses like Dorothy Kisaka and others.

The problem Lukwago had with SFC is because they’re not meant to be fixing roads but should be handling the president’s security or maintaining the security of Uganda along it’s borders and else where with in the county. The other issue Lukwago had with the SFC deal is seeing Muhoozi who is not a minister or Executive director inspecting the roads in Kampala.

Lukwago was just quick forget that Gen Salim Saleh who is Museeni’s brother is neither a Minister in Museveni’s government nor an executive director of any entity but the coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation whose activities have since been over rode by the Parish Development Model but every one runs to him for help and he’s more powerful than the prime minister or Vice president or even both combined while seated in Kapeeka.

Salim Saleh even recently came out and warned Lukwago himself that he would pull out the support he renders to him if he continues sabotaging his arrangements in the city. Omuloodi came out guns brazing and denied the Saleh allegations and we thought he would drag him to court but he instead just coiled his tail and pressed the silence button. This implies Muhoozi inspected the roads with invincible powers more than those of the Executive director Dorothy Kisaka, her Deputy Eng Luyimbaazi or the Minister of Kampala Minsa Kabanda or Kyofatogabye.

Meaning had it been another company contracted to fix the pot holes in the city, Lukwago wouldn’t have come out fuming like some one who has lost the battle with bruises.

Gen Muhoozi Keinerugaba once commanded the SFC before he was elevated to be the commander of the Land Forces. He was replaced by Maj Gen Kayanja Muhanga and he only retained his other position of being the presidential advisor on special operations. Fixing Kampala pot holes must be a SPECIAL OPERATION which falls under Muhoozi’s docket that’s why he was inspecting the potholed roads of Kampala.

We all now agree that filling the potholes with that special brown soil (marram) or patches of tarmac can never be a lasting solution to the poor road network of Kampala but just a short term to appease the visitors who will be in the country in January and February. Government and KCCA ought to come up with a lasting solution to the problem of poor road network not only in Kampala but in other areas across the country. Without considering this, we brace for more accidents and losing more of our people in road carnages.

The Writer Is a Ugandan Digital Journalist

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