Monday, November 30, 2015

Going Places

Going Places

It was a shock, my first visit for 4 years. Traveling to and from  Kampala from Ndejje in 2014 was a nightmare.  it was December and I had already been warned regarding the christmas rush. But the sheer volume of traffic and people were overwhelming.

First you had to fight your way to the bus stop at the taxi park. Passing all the sellers of chinese clothes and plastic toys, thousands of individuals are on the move.  To keep focus, and to stay calm was a real test. Once you found the stop, you were faced with up to 50 others waiting for the same bus that fits 14. There is no queing, its a physical and emotional battle . If you are lucky to get on the bus, a four mile traffic jam awaited you. You arrived home knackered. 

In my last blog I talked about water and electricity in Uganda, this one is about roads and the countries infrastructure. 
Uganda is no different to other third world countries that are facing an increasing migration from rural to urban settings.  With no jobs or space,  the young especially,  are forced into overcrowding dangerous living conditions.  If they are lucky to get work,  its for peanuts.

The roads had not changed, neither a growing network or the quality of the roads. Entering Ndejje was still a bumpy ride as the buses navigated the pot holes, the flooded areas and other obstacles. There is an ever increasing pressure on the  infrastructure, and it came to a head in 2011. 

The walk to work protests in 2011 happened not because of opportunistic groups that wanted to take advantage of the Arab Spring. It was not led by civil society.  It was ordinary Ugandans, with no health or employment rights, coming out on the street, protesting their own living conditions. Due to the rising costs and the difficulties of getting about, the mood and energy of the people created the atmosphere.  

Museveni and his government knew there was a real threat from below. With civil society ( NGO'S, labour groups etc) Museveni would be able to passify, but with the ordinary citizens with nothing to lose, the threat was real. 

The government shot, fired tear gas, attacked and brutally cracked down on the thousands and thousands of protesters.  Thousands were arrested, TV stations were shut down.  The people faced a brick wall, if they continued,  they would be starved or killed. Slowly, people went back to their daily grind. 

To operate a small business. To face the nightmares of getting about, the increasing food and water prices. Its a daily struggle. Mzuribeads are in solidarity with the struggle, giving a voice to the artisans that make beads to send their children off to school and to buy the next meal.

Mzuribeads, beads, Africa, Uganda, Walk to work protests , 2011 protest, rising fuel costs, Food increases, Ugandan roads, artisans, fair trade, overcrowding, Police violence, Schools, education, Ugandan transport , Matatoo, Ndejje 

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