Kampala: Extra Busy this Christmas
Christmas shopping in Kampala.

Kampala: Extra Busy this Christmas

Politics, price hikes, traffic... Its a busy Christmas 2005.

By John Isingoma
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First published: December 17, 2005

Whoever celebrates Christmas, their mind is currently counting down to the big day-Christmas.

In any place you go, you realize that the city is jammed from morning to evening with people doing shopping. Now, instead of the menacing motor traffic jam that give most people a bad day on a daily basis, one can rightly say that the city is now infested with a pedestrian traffic jam.

One obvious occurrence in Uganda during Christmas season is a hike in transport fares. Over loading, increase in traffic accidents and massive slaughter of all sorts of animals are the other realities connected with Christmas. This year’s Christmas will not be different as transport fares are already up by more than 30% on all upcountry routes.

Old Taxi Park.

The Uganda Bus Operators (UBOA) has hiked the transport fares for almost all upcountry routes by between 2,000 and 5000 shillings. For instance, transport to Gulu has been increased from 15,000 to 20,000, that from Kampala to Kabale the price has been hiked from 15,000 to 20,000 shillings.

From Kampala to Mbarara, fares are up from 10,000 to 15,000 shillings and from Kampala to areas such as Mbale, Soroti, Tororo and Busia; fares have been hiked from 10,000 to 15,000.

The transport fares are however expected to more than double in the coming few days as the number of people traveling from upcountry to shop, and those traveling up country to celebrate Christmas also increases. The UBOA assistant manager, Hajji Mohammed Kasule says that this is expected as early as next week.

The hike in transport fares according to Kasule is due to a ban by police on double routes aimed at reducing accidents resulting from over speeding drivers who would wish to make as many routes as possible. Therefore to compensate for one route per day per bus and reduced return loads the bus/taxi operators have been left with no option but to increase the fares by 50% and soon it will be another 50%, finally the increase will total to more than 100%.

Christmas shopping
Despite complaints from traders in shops and warnings from Kampala City Traders’ Association spokesperson Isa Kikungwe, street traders (Batembeyi) have returned on streets to cash in on the Christmas season and continue conducting business on the streets.

Recently Kampala City Council (KCC) passed a directive to street traders to leave the street or else be arrested and charged with carrying out business in illegal places. However this directive has not been effective allegedly due to interference from the office of Residence District Commissioners (RDC) for Kampala who has told the street traders to go on with their business, but also because of the ready market in this season.

The common items sold on the streets are clothes, shoes, decoration items, and Christmas greeting cards among others. Kikungwe says that street traders are causing congestion and obscure the shops and deny shop owners a chance to sell their items.

Good Shirts are being sold between 5,000 and 20,000 shillings while trousers are going for 10,000 to 25,000 depending on where the items are sold and the quality of the clothes. Similarly, the price of shoes also varies in price.

Other factors
Christmas in Uganda, especially Kampala, has coincided with elections of presidential and other leaders who are going to represent their parties in the February national elections.

FDC rally at Nakivubo.

On 14th and 15th December 2005 there was the nominations of the presidential candidates. The nominated candidates added more heat into the city due to rallies that each party had organized to launch their manifesto. These rallies attracted more than a million supporters who marched in and around Kampala adding to the already jammed city due to Christmas shopping activities.

DP Rally.

Music is another familiar characteristic for Christmas season. Playing Christmas carols in Kampala is currently the order of the day with Christmas songs jolting your ears at every corner you pass in Kampala. In addition Christmas tunes are also being used on mobile phones.

In case you have failed to get into the spirit of Christmas, you need to visit Kampala and witnesses how the capital city of a country, ranked number one in boozing, prepares for the Christmas season.

By John Isingoma
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First published: December 17, 2005
To learn more about Ultimate Media Consult go to www.ultimatemediaconsult.com.

John Isingoma is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. A social scientist by training, Isingoma is the Executive Secretary at Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd and after years training and practice in the media has become a dedicated writer and researcher.