Thursday, June 2, 2011


There are a number of lessons from Hajji Ssebagala's failure to satisfy the Committee Vetting Ministers; these among others include:
1. Once convicted of a criminal offense, damage is done and it is beyond repair;
2. It is bad for a man to be untrustworthy, Ssebagala is a real political prostitute who can well execute roles of spying on another party for material gain,
3. Ssebagala has shown a lot of arrogance. he was told to hand over the office of Mayor and he took it as a joke,
4. It is not good to fall in things without going through formal education. We learn a lot in formal education and this is part of the undoing for Ssebagala,
5. In transferring his office from the official KCC premises and eventually claiming that the President had endorsed his take over or eventual purchase of the premise all is seen in bad faith, as a custodian of KCC properties, he is seen as a potential grabber of property,
6. Ssebagala's ways of doing things out rightly show that he is a corrupt man.

Monday, 10th August, 2009

By Alex Balimwikungu
CALL Mayor Nasser Ssebagala’s cell phone and before he picks these words off Bobi Wine’s Mazzi Mawanvu hit greet you: “Six years down the road... no bway (boy) bad like the ghetto president, Bobi Wine more dangerous than Ebola and AIDS combined….” Should we even start asking the music His Worship the Mayor plays in his wheels?
“As a politician, I identify with songs that are popular with the masses. As Barrack Obama took his campaigns to the Oprah Winfrey show, I chose Bobi Wine, who appeals a lot to the common man,” the mayor says, adding that he would not listen to Tereza O’we Binna Eddene from the 1970s because many do not know it,
Ssebagala argues. Since all his cars are fitted with 6-CD changers, you expect six other songs to dominate his list of music collection. He also plays Fred Sebatta’s Tusunsule Abazungu, Cliff Richard’s The Young Ones, Elvis Presley’s, Loving Me and finds time to slide in Nandujja’s Tulimukuzunga.
“Since I am driven around, I fully enjoy the music without interruption,” he says.

Interview by the 7M Construction Magazine

KCC Mayor, Al Hajji Nasser SsebagalaYour Grace, the Mayor, can you highlight to our readers the background on formation and running of the Kampala City Council?

We have got two sections of KCC: what was there before and what is there now. KCC’s aim is to develop the city to greater heights, although it is facing a lot of challenges. The population is too high yet the resources are limited. Kampala’s population should be 300,000 people but now we are over 3.5 million and the infrastructure is not developed well enough for them. For example roads, health services and residential areas are not developed. We have two types of a city, a sustainable and a non sustainable one. For example, London has 27 million people. My friend Ken Livingston just sits on his table and he knows how much money he is going to get in a year because 99.9% of the city dwellers are productive and have sustainable salaries. The London city mayor just sits back and plans according to a known budget. He planned and bought a lot of buses by borrowing the money.

3.9 million People in Kampala have unsustainable income. Only 6% are productive and the rest don’t have jobs. This is very challenging to Kampala City Council. What does this imply? People want services but they are not productive. The last planning system was done in 1995 for the roads in Kampala. A Master Plan was done to absorb 3,000,000 million people. We need proper planning to achieve our goals.
Tell us about yourself, your education, how you became the Mayor, challenges you have met and achievements to date.

It is a very simple story. I started working with my uncle when I was young. I was only 7 years then at a place called Nakasero market. He gave me training which I could never get from school. My father believed that one should sustain themselves, so I had to work hard. To get a good job you must work hard and that is what I did to reach where I am now. I have never got money from my parents and I have always worked hard since childhood. I didn’t get any of these from school except from the lessons my parents taught me, which encouraged me to work hard. My father used to tell me that whatever I do, I should be the best and to be no 1 you should put in extra hours of work. I became a millionaire when I was only 20 years old. I bought a very good car, the best in East Africa then, when I was 21years old. So those who think I have this hummer because I am the Mayor are wrong. If by that time hummers had been there I would have been driving one. So I have been living a very high status and privileged life. What am I implying to you? That because you are young, you should work hard. You should “okuremerako pakalast.” Try to be independent and self sustaining. But if you begin saying “mama yanzariraki?” (why was I born?) then you are in trouble. Everyone should be able to sustain themselves.
What do you say about the wrongly designed structures and buildings in the City, some of which collapse and kill wanachi? What do you think could be the cause and what is your strategy to stop this?

It is very unfortunate, when a building collapses and kills people. But we also have a problem, how we build our structures. The foundation of a two storied building should be at least 4 feet. There is a law that every structure should have an underground parking. For the parking you are supposed to go down up to 15 feet. Automatically the movement of the crust collapses the land, because we don’t have that advanced technology to do that type of work. In Dubai/Europe when they are constructing, they use supporting formwork, which is by the way in the short run expensive, but in the long run cheap and efficient. Most Ugandans don’t want to spend all that money on tools, equipment and machinery. That is why most buildings don’t have a firm foundation.
Does KCC have a system of ensuring that ONLY professionally qualified and approved professionals are allowed to oversee the design and construction supervision of city structures?

The strategy is that engineers do their work properly. Investors should also invest more money so that they can have control over that problem. We also need to use more expertise. However we ensure that every structure has got a professional engineer to oversee the construction process.
There is a bylaw, we believe, that every structure under development should have a signboard showing the stakeholders (client, consultants, contractors and suppliers). How come so many structures do not have these? What is KCC doing about it?

We are not the supervisors but we give you the plan and you get the ideas from there. Why? Maybe we have got a Chief Engineer and other engineers. I think you have heard, that we have a retrenchment exercise going on. We retrenched most of our workers. Our responsibility is to ensure that you the investors have a professional engineer. So you should come to us to ask for our help but not us telling you what to do. One time Museveni (the President) said that we should take (them) to court but when you look at the law we don’t have a responsibility on that. So if you are the investor you should come to us, instead of us coming to you because we don’t have that man power.
In our 7M Construction Magazine, Volume 10 page 52, we reported an electric pole, which was irresponsibly erected in the middle of the road! While we thank Your Lordship, that it was at last removed, why did such a blunder happen and take so long to rectify?

I think we should understand this. As the mayor I am just a leader. We have got what is called decentralization system. We have 5 divisions; central division which is independent; kawempe and others. The chairman has the responsibility to oversee and supervise all that through the engineer given from their division. If they don’t do that they have made a mistake.

Now you see KCC put a demarcation of work. Regarding electricity there are people who are supposed to do that. What we can do is to inform the people of UEB and UMEME to rectify the problem because it is not in our budget. For us we see that we do things where possible. This is not in our responsibility. The best way is to protect the people instead of coming and banging the poll.
We reported in the same magazine (Volume 10) about access roads that are too narrow to allow traffic and services. Some are only 4 meters wide, inclusive space for amenities such as water, electricity and communication cables! Landlords claim to sell land with demarcations for roads, which have been approved by the Ministry of Lands and KCC. Does KCC have approved widths of access roads? What is the width and how does KCC ensure, that this is upheld?

Have you been travelling? Probably upcountry. (Laughs). If you had ever been to London you would not be asking such a question. Go to London and you will see beautiful roads. You can’t move the city because of the roads, it’s very expensive. So the point is to understand the solution and make another city. People from all over Uganda have cars yet the population within is already big. We actually do have the width but most of the land is private and when you talk of the width you are supposed to pay the land owner of which we don’t have that money. The width itself depends for instance the smallest road should be 12 feet and the big one 22ft. In a city like London cars stop to allow others to pass. That is in developed countries. For us we have got more than ½ a million cars but the plan was to accommodate 45,000 cars in town. Remember there are other cars coming from other districts all over Uganda. All roads lead to Kampala.
We understand it is KCC’s responsibility to issue occupation permits ONLY to structures that have been completed and inspected to conform to the approved plans. How come we see many buildings, which are occupied even when parts of them are still under construction

As the saying goes, “You cut your hair according to your height” 99% of the developers get money from loans. They get the money such that once you have 40% you give back 10%. And they have to pay that money promptly. It is from small businesses that they get the money to maintain them and pay the debts. We only allow people to occupy them for the sake of developing themselves and encouraging them to develop their business. What we do is encourage them to put provisions that prevent falling debris from hitting the people down stairs. There are Chinese who do that using their technology.
There is too much traffic congestion on the city roads and in the parks. What plans do you have to decongest the city?

I think I already answered that. The cars are very many. In developed countries taxis are not supposed to have parks. They have stages, so you don’t keep taxis in one place but here we mix development with politics. You can’t find a park in (in the city) in developed countries. Once you get a chance to go abroad you will see the bus terminals. Cars come to the terminals only for 15 minutes and then leave. Others come and leave too after 15 minutes. What we have here in Kampala is a stagnant park. Buildings should have parking lots. It is essential and the law emphasizes it but sometimes for the sake of development and other factors some of the buildings may not have the parking. The space is used for something else. There are other parking places outside those buildings like on the roadsides. We allow our developers to develop even more.
Your Lordship, quite often roads have been turned into markets for the hawkers who sometimes pop their heads into people’s vehicles some times causing accidents and traffic jams. What do you say about that? Is this kind of trade allowed?

It is not allowed but people have no employment. Does it make any sense when people are frustrated, get pangas and come and kill you because they are poor and you have stopped them from doing their trade? We as politicians are supposed to make sure that people have jobs. We look at many things: does this person have kids, school fees, food, what is he going to do? And we are supposed to make sure that he gets the job but usually we do nothing. In Uganda we mix development with politics which is bad. In Rwanda the President wakes up one day and says I don’t want that boda boda there and it will not be there but here in Uganda, people don’t care about how the town looks. They throw dirt in the middle of the road.

I one time told Kale Kaihura (the Inspector General of Police), that we have got more than 30,000 boda bodas. You are the one who has been discouraging them but how come they are on a rampage? So it is good in Rwanda because there is law and order. Mixing development and politics is killing Kampala. RDCs no longer have power. As long as we go on with this attitude this Kampala will no longer be a city but a slum. In Rwanda whether you are a Minister and you are told not to drop rubbish you must adhere. Sometimes you see a very smart person throwing rubbish and you wonder. Do people want the Mayor to come and collect rubbish for them? This is the same rubbish that blocks the drainage system and places get flooded. I have been telling people to come to my place and see how clean and smart I am. I am organized. You came and found people outside the gate. They had been cleaning my compound and I pay them. I know if I spend a week without picking the compound, it looks untidy and I can never allow that. This road to my place is almost the only one which is clean. If you want to see how people should live then come to my place and you will have a good experience. I have nice trees. And I would advise you to take pictures of the road coming to my place so that people can pick an example of how the Mayor lives. If you want to see clean places go to the Mayor’s home. These are the same trees we have here in Uganda but people are not developmental.
Is there a strategic/development plan for KCC? Under such a strategy, if it is there, what do city dwellers hope to see, of social and economic importance in the next 5 years or so?

Beautiful and comfortable hotels have been constructed and this is intended to boost tourism. People can go to Bwindi and find comfortable accommodation. But also because we are not orderly the tourists have started running away.

For traffic congestion people have to wake up early to avoid being caught up in jam which is an individual’s responsibility. The bottom line is that we should respect law and order whether you believe in me or not. Let us put law and order at the front. Take your responsibility. Actually I used to go to Rwanda before the current government. It was in a mess but this government has introduced law and order and everybody respects it.
What challenges and difficulties have you faced regarding construction activities in the city and how have you gone about them?

The challenges are there as human beings. First of all we have had a system of rehabilitation since Museveni came to power. Yes we must have it but that’s not all. In terms of planning we lack a long term banking system. Everything is about rehabilitation. The challenge is not only for me as the Mayor but also you as a person.
We are behind schedule for planning and development here in Kampala. For 15 years there has been no development at all. So where are we heading. People just wake up and do things. That is how we run the government which is wrong.
Do you hope to contest for Mayor ship come 2011?
No I am not the kind of person who wants to stay in one position. I have other strategic plans. If you want to know about them you make another appointment with me.

What is your message to our readers?
First of all I appreciate those who have put up buildings for social economic development. They have also passed through a very difficult time to achieve what they have. At the same time if we want to develop our selves we should keep law and order. For example if you told me to go down town to buy something I wouldn’t do that because there is no law and order. I would other go to Game (Shopping Mall),where I know I can park my car without disturbance and that’s why such people are taking all the customers.

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