Jinja City and Njeru Town Lockdown Enforcement and Reality
By Prof. Waswa Balunywa, PhD
In the previous parts, we have shared solutions to the current COVID-19 challenge. In this part, we share some of the experiences of the second lockdown.
Following the lockdown, the people of Jinja City and Njeru town, which by definition are on both sides with the Nile, are suffering from a major problem. These are the same people, brothers and sisters, who work in the same places, eat, and chat. COVID-19 has separated them! The law enforcers are indeed enforcing the law by following the directive where H.E. The President said there should be no movement from one district to the other. Jinja town comprises the actual Jinja town; Mafubira, Bugembe, Mbiko, and Njeru area. Lest I am accused of being a Musoga hegemony, they are, however, separate entities on paper.
When the boundaries are set, the physical boundaries divide the town on one side of the Nile and the other. One side of the Nile is in the Busoga region, and the other side of the Nile is in the Buganda region. But the invisible hand that defines things tells you these two places are joined embryonically. Indeed, Njeru Town is in the Buganda region, and Jinja City is in the Busoga region. However, it is foolhardy to believe that commercially, these are two different places. If you officially suggested they become one, you would unleash unimaginable and unmanageable protests.
The consequence, therefore, is that the law enforcers who are doing their job I must add, are denying people from Njeru, getting into Jinja town and vice versa to conduct their businesses. They are also denying people who work in Jinja town but stay in Njeru from crossing. The law can be unfair. But I learnt that Law is Law even if it is unfavorable. This is unfortunate, but I can’t blame them because they are simply enforcing the law.
This is pointing out a problem that we have in other parts of the country. For instance, Kampala, the big component of greater Kampala, is in Wakiso, and another is in Mukono. So, in terms of enforcing inter-district movement, you may artificially prevent people who are in Kampala from getting to Mukono or those in Mukono from getting to Kampala. I gather Masaka City and Masaka district have similar problems. I think the authorities need to ease the case for the people in Jinja because the people in Njeru town rely on Jinja’s industrial area for work. Even in Masaka City to Masaka district.
However, for the Busoga Leaders, take note; Investors are increasingly buying land on the Buganda side of the Nile because, according to them, land in Jinja municipality and the Busoga side has challenges. Most of the land “mbu” has two titles or more. It has been sold so many times. So the investors are increasingly buying into the Buganda side, and in the next 10 years, the Njeru town council may be much bigger than Jinja. Jinja has no physical space for expansion, with Lake Victoria on one side (South), River Nile on another (West), and Kakira sugarcane on the Eastern side. The Busoga Leaders should take note.
I digress, but it would be in the country’s interest that Jinja and Njeru are combined as a city for ease of administration and growth. They can be two towns in one city (Saint Paul, Minnesota). It is a novel idea! I think it will make more sense because these two towns are simply separated by the Nile. Forgive me for starting the unthinkable, but only crazy people change things.