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Driving us potty!

Aug 8 • 2481 views • 4 Comments on Driving us potty! Africa, East Africa, Kampala, Society and culture, Travel, Uganda

I missed seeing this great photo when it was on TV recently (it took me 18 months – and a man – to work out I have more than four channels!)

Residents in the Ugandan capital Kampala have been protesting against the state of the roads by going fishing in potholes. Look closely and you will see a man pulling a fish out of a pothole.

The protesters said the poor state of roads causes accidents and increases congestion. The protesters are not wrong, Kampala is a nightmare.

Kampala’s roads are in such a bad state that the city has been nicknamed “Kampothole”.

The Mayor claims he is not given enough tax revenue to fix roads.

Poor state of the roads? They’re abysmal, dangerous and a total disgrace, we’re all so exasperated at the amount of time it takes to travel short distances. During morning rush hour (which can last until midday) it can take an hour and a half to crawl into town. At night, this journey takes less than ten minutes.

I took this photo after a heavy downpour had washed the road away in the Industrial Area. This road took the full force of thousand of gallons pouring downhill. The problem is not just the roads, it’s the lack of a drainage system to channel the water.

Note: the ‘small car’ on the other side of the pothole, cautiously waiting to cross, is a Toyota Landcruiser, one of the biggest 4X4s on the market. This pothole was very deep and I saw a few cars stuck in it. It’s been filled in but will no doubt reappear in the coming weeks or months.

Since the bombings, it’s simply not worth driving into town unless you absolutely have to. The frustrations of standstill traffic and 20 minute security searches everywhere you go are good news for boda boda drivers – it’s the only way to travel these days.


Here’s an excerpt from a New Vision newspaper article by Dr Ian Clarke. Ian came from Northern Ireland 30 years ago as a missionary. Since then he has set up International Hospital and created quite a property empire apparently. He’s a controversial character but I like him. He gives me a lift to the Hash every monday evening.

We all know that there is practically no planning in Kampala and that the capital city of Uganda is basically a village that outgrew its infrastructure years ago. The Central Government and Kampala City Council have been playing a game of ping-pong with Kampala roads, bouncing the responsibility and blame to each other, while the rest of us continue to suffer. The roads are atrocious, the drainage is worse, the rubbish is a disgrace and the traffic conditions are becoming more intolerable every day.

From time to time a road gets fixed in one part of the city, but another section of the city then falls apart, such as the drainage channel behind Seventh Street and the road over the railway line at Namuwongo. Over the past few weeks the road across the railway line has become like a village farmyard track, so that all traffic is slowed to less than walking pace as it labours over the potholes, crevices and craters that masquerade as a road.

During the past couple of weeks the drainage channel behind Seventh Street has become completely blocked so that water and all manner of filth simply runs out onto the road undermining any surface that was there in the first place. The Cty Council KCC had deployed workers to unblock the drain, so some men had the unenviable task of standing in the drains fishing out the filth. Someone then had the idea of dumping the mud and rubbish in the potholes to fill them up. This is a novel way to fill potholes and could kill two birds with one stone!


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4 Responses to Driving us potty!

  1. lizziema says:

    I believe what you say about the potholes. Having suffered – driven through about 11,046 of them on safari. And we only went into central Kampala

  2. Charlie says:

    Kampala roads go from bad to worse but we expect roads to 'suddenly improve' on build-up to next year's elections …

  3. […] and sweeping piles of dirt from the side of the road. The makeover continues! See photos on a previous blog about how dire the roads have […]

  4. […] and sweeping piles of dirt from the side of the road. The makeover continues! See photos on a previous blog about how dire the roads have […]

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