Discovery of oil in the Albertine region has come as a blessing for the people in the area. Kijura is one of the areas expanding owing to the increasing traffic that is getting into Masindi Town. Growth and development are indeed eminent and the residents are reaping big.
Kijura is a lively and commercial suburb in Masindi Town that does not go to sleep, teeming with business activity for most part of the day and night. It is strategically located in the Central Division along the Masindi- Hoima Road ,one kilometre from the town. The suburb has carved a name for itself attracting people from all walks of life and is divided into two; Kijura North and South with three cells.
The discovery of commercial viable oil in Bunyoro Region created excitement, especially among business minded individuals. However, despite Bunyoro having many places where one can invest, some have failed to find where to start from partly due to lack of knowledge on some places. One cannot underestimate the potential of Kijura cell.
The area is largely urban with a mix of indigenous people, a large student population and a fast growing business class. People in the area are mainly engaged in selling foodstuffs, merchandise, and construction especially commercial houses and rentals.
The area has grown over the years attracting new people and setting a new course in its development.
Solomon Barungi, a former chairperson of the area says the Kigumba- Kabwoya- Kagadi- Kyenjojo Road has attracted people in the area since it is a major oil road. In fact, Kijura’s surging population is a blessing, according to Barungi. It has led to a shift of some businesses from the main town to the suburb.
“Kijura is going to lead and Masindi Town will be left out because traders are shifting from the centre of the town and are doing business in Kijura as it is now a catchment area for customers owing to the huge population,” he says.
He adds, “Here in Kijura, we do business beyond midnight, but in town, they close at around 9 pm and proceed to their homes.”
Cost of land and rent
Munaku James, the Kijura area chairperson says land used to be bought cheaply between Shs1m and Shs3.5m for 50x100 plot in the trading centre, especially between 2000 and 2008. However, since oil was discovered in the Albertine Graben, cost of land and services has increased astronomically.
Land within Kijura cell goes for Shs7m- Shs20m for 50 x 100 feet for a residential house. However, for a commercial plot along the main road, one needs between Shs40 to Shs50m. Meanwhile, buying a plot of land with a commercial house goes for Shs150 to Shs250m.
Cost of rent for a commercial house ranges between Shs150,000 and shs250,000. However, Munaku says this depends on how you have designed your commercial house and its location within the suburb.
Rent for residential houses in Kijura is between Shs50,000 and Shs200,000 for a self-contained house and Shs30,000 to Shs70,000 for single and double rooms.
Cases of theft still exist with a few thieves still lurking in the area.
“In terms of security, we are not yet safe. People are still complaining that thieves break into their houses,” he says. A large number of night foot patrols by police officers from the Masindi Police Station and soldiers from the army barracks has been deployed to secure the area of hard core criminals. However, the chairperson blames theft on unemployment since a large number of students living in the area do not go back to their homes after completing studies thereby engaging in such acts.
Investing in serious commercial houses can be a money fetching venture in Kijura given its commercial viability and increasing business population. There are no storied houses within the area.
“A good business investment is to build a commercial house because many people want to open shops, bars, hotels and other businesses,” he says. Kijura’s strategic location on the Masindi-Hoima Road gives it strategic location for success of any business whether real estate, hospitality or petroleum.
However, investing in hospitality and accommodation gives an investor an upper hand. Kijura is a host to a surging population creating a deficit for housing units. Surrounded by almost 10 secondary schools, most students reside within Kijura, meanwhile, two tertiary institutions near the suburb also present another investment opportunity. The place is good for constructing private hostels for students which lack in the area.
Kijura lacks top notch accommodation facilities such as good guest houses and hotels, especially for travellers given its location on an ever busy road.
Whereas the place has one petrol station, an investor with a keen eye for the future could consider starting a business in petroleum business to serve the ever increasing number of motorists and motor cyclists from other parts of the country in the area.
Aquila Justus, a born of the area says there is need for standard hotels which would attract police officers for a stop over and eat. “Whenever there are functions in Kabalye Police Training School, these police officers eat from high standard hotels because they lack where to eat from within the area.”
“Rearing chicken in the area can fetch a prospective investor good cash given the ready market. Vegetables are also being consumed at a high rate. Horticulture can also be a good investment. People here have greatly invested in growing vegetables,” he says.
Nelson Fredrick Mandela, chairperson Central Division, says despite Kijura being a busy suburb, there is need to construct a market so that the road side food sellers can be relocated to one standard market. He says the two markets in Kijura are not enough to for the population as some people from other suburbs also buy food from the same market. “It is a suburb and our food base is small, we don’t dig here but we have a population that feeds all the time,” he says.