A group of leaders in Kayunga District, Uganda, organized a demonstration to bring attention to unfulfilled pledges by the government. The demonstration, led by Mr. Charles Tebandeke, the Bbaale County MP, was called “Black Independence” and aimed to highlight the poor condition of the Kayunga-Galilaaya road, which had not been tarred despite promises by President Museveni dating back to 2001.
The organizers had previously sought clearance from the Inspector General of Police for their planned demonstration in August but did not receive a response. Kayunga District Police Commander, Ms. Rosette Sikahwa, later declared the protest illegal and blocked it, but some leaders, including Mr. Tebandeke, were determined to exercise their constitutional right to a peaceful demonstration.
On the day of the protest, security was increased in trading centers throughout Bbaale County, with both police and the army patrolling urban areas. Demonstrators, abandoning their vehicles at one point, used motorcycles and evaded security personnel, ultimately gathering in Butalabuna Forest in Kayonza Sub-county to hold their demonstration.
During the protest, participants displayed placards with messages such as “No tarmac road, no votes, we are tired of being taken for granted.” Mr. Tebandeke emphasized that they were not against President Museveni or the government but wanted the promised road to be tarred. He expressed frustration that the 89-kilometer road had been in the national budget for over 20 years without any progress, resulting in accidents and fatalities.
Residents of Kayunga had previously held two similar protests in July, also met with security blockades. Mr. Joseph Ouma, a Bbaale resident, vowed that they would continue their efforts until the road was improved, arguing that Independence Day celebrations held no meaning without adequate roads.
However, Ms. Sikahwa cautioned residents against being manipulated by self-serving politicians, emphasizing the political nature of the protests. Gen Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works and Transport, assured residents that the government was actively seeking funds to tar the road, acknowledging its longstanding neglect.
Notably, there was a plan to tar the Kayunga-Galilaaya road during the Obote II regime, which aimed to create a shorter route to northern Uganda. Unfortunately, this plan was derailed when the government was toppled.