Masajja kibira is located in the outskirts of Kampala. It’s only link to the city is through the dusty Busabala Road and Salaama-Munyonyo road that is often impassable when areas near River Mayanja flood.
According to Florence Nassaka, a resident, Kibira was named after a forest that previously occupied the area called Musisi.
It is believed that witchdoctors converged in the forest to carry out rituals. Over the years, parts of the forest have been deforested to create space for infrastructure.
“River Mayanja which originates from Mityana and pours its waters into Lake Victoria is one of the oldest features in the area.
During the rainy season, the river floods halting transportation of people and goods in and out of the area,” Nasaka says.
She adds that previously, Masajja Kibira zone had only two shops. “We used to walk long distances to purchase items.
At the time, few people owned big chunks of land but currently many have sold their land and it has since been divided into smaller plots,” she recalls.
David Mayanja, chairman of Masajja Zone B says the area was named Masajja because in the past, the area produced a number of brave men. Mayanja says most of the land in the area is Kabaka’s land. “In the past very few people lived in Masajja Kibira zone A and B but currently the population in the area stands at 9,000 people.”
Mayanja says the area is faced with a number of problems especially the poor road network. “Poor planning by the government has cost us dearly. We do not have a direct road that connects us to the capital,” he notes.
Those using Salaama Road are affected by floods that make movement almost impossible during the rainy season when River Mayanja floods.
Those who want to cross part with more money in order to reach their destination since it is an uphill climb from the main road to Masajja,” he says.
“Because of dust, residents of Masajja travelling by Busabala Road usually refrain from wearing clothes that can be easily stained. Women carry polythene bags and scarfs which they use to cover their heads as they travel,” he narrates.
“Another problem that was created by poor planning was encroachment on wetlands, due to vague specifications between wetlands and mairo land. Many people have encroached on wetlands and constructed permanent structures which has led to degradation of the environment,” he adds.
Cost of land and rent
Mayanja says there is no land for sale in the area. “The only way one could acquire land is by buying off owners and demolishing their homes,” he says.
Prices charged for rentals in the area depend on the type of property and its condition. A single room costs between Shs80,000and Shs100,000 while a double room goes for between Shs180,000 and Shs200,000. A two bedroom house with a sitting and dining area costs betweenShs250,000 and Shs300,000.
Residents are involved in businesses including Retail shops, clinics and pharmacies, tailoring and carpentry workshops, hardware shops and a few schools, with Joy Primary Schools being the most dominant. Many women in the area make crafts like embroidery for scandals.
David Mayanja, chairman of Masajja Zone B says National Water Sewerage Cooperation tried to work on the road network near Buzaali stage but the works were futile, as the area is flooded whenever it rains heavily. Residents claim that during rainy times floods fill their houses and at times washes away vehicles that try to cross.
“Unemployment has increased because brick making that was once the prominent employment for many youth in the area has since declined. There is simply no land to carry out the activity. Consequently many youth have turned areas near River Mayanja especially Bizaali stage into motor vehicle washing bays.
During the rainy season the area is impassable, as the floods fill areas near River Mayanja. To help one cross, the youth charge a fee of between Shs500 and Shs1,000.They use either motor bicycles to transport people or even carry them which is dangerous and can cause drowning.