This weekend Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) will take one more step in reinventing the image of the capital’s government from the poster boy for everything that is wrong with the country to one that gives hope for a brighter future.
The fourth edition of the Kampala City Carnival will set off from Buganda road travel the length of Kampala road before finishing at Kololo airstrip.
Sponsors have ponied up more than a billion shillings to make the event a success.
If you had fallen asleep in for the last five years and happened to wake up in time for this year’s carnival you may would be forgiven for suffering some disorientation caused by how much the city has changed.
"This public display of affection is intended to make us feel good about our city. Is it working? Time will tell...
We are a cleaner, tidier city, we have a few roads that have been resurfaced and lit at night. We now take these for granted. The irony of life is that when people take certain things for granted you know you are doing a good job, even if no one thanks you for it.
The rebranding of the city is not unlike previous efforts by National Water & Sewerage Corporation under former managing director William Muhairwe or Uganda Revenue Authority under outgoing commissioner general Allen Kagina or at the Uganda Police Force under Major General Kale Kayihura.
For all of the above their naysayers rubbished these efforts as mere window dressing but in hindsight one can see that when followed up with consistent action or service delivery has made a lasting impression on the general population.
In the case of KCCA the fact we are greeted at sun rise by yellow workers sweeping our roads, that roads that have gone years in a state of disrepair are finally getting fixed and that the leadership of the City looks more focussed, coherent and dare I say, attractive, suggests there has been a fundamental change in the affairs of Kampala.
Of course the running battles with Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago have taken some sheen off the image of the KCCA but the consensus seems to be for the first time in living memory Kampala residents are happy with the progress being made.
A lot still has to be done.
For instance the security of the city cannot be left to the good will of its residents. KCCA’s role, apart from forging greater collaboration with the security agencies, would be to better map the city, have every nook, cranny and side road be properly labelled and marked.
Finances remain short but by regularising its revenue streams KCCA set the stage for a great financing opportunity. These verifiable revenue streams can now be leveraged to borrow from the markets to fund many critical projects.
But back to Kampala City Carnival. Essentially executive director Jennifer Musisi and team have put their reputations on the line. Year-on-year they need to keep working so when the carnival comes around they can know in the back of their heads that there are visible improvements to justify the merriment on one Sunday in October.
It is also a useful exercise in winning corporate Uganda to their plans. KCCA is raising the bar of how public institutions should interact with the general public, based on the appreciation that the public bankrolls them (public institutions) and they (the public) need to be accounted to.
They are telling the people of Kampala there is something to celebrate and by extension things are getting better.
This public display of affection is intended to make us feel good about our city. Is it working? Time will tell.