Dubbed The ‘Adventure Capital of East Africa’, Jinja never disappoints. Jinja is the source of the mighty River Nile, the world’s longest river, which winds its way from here through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean. Jinja is the second largest city and second busiest commercial center in Uganda.
Jinja was established in 1907. Jinja celebrated 50 years as a municipality, 100 years as a town in July 2006. Jinja has also been a municipality for now 68 years. Uganda currently has one city Kampala, 41 municipalities, 422 town councils and more than 120 districts.
Jinja District is located in Busoga sub-region, in the eastern part of Uganda and it is approximately 81 kilometers, east of Kampala. It sits along the northern shores of Lake Victoria and in proximity to the source of the Nile.
Of recent, the cabinet of Uganda has approved the creation of nine cities, five of which will become operational on July 1, 2020. According to the National Development Program or Vision 2040, Jinja is proposed to be transformed into a strategic industrial city alongside Nakasongola, Hoima, and Fort Portal. Fort Portal, Mbarara and Hoima will be regional cities in western Uganda; Entebbe city in the central region; Lira, Arua and Gulu in northern region while Mbale and Jinja cities will serve the eastern region.
What is a city?
According to the “functional definition” a city is not distinguished by size alone, but also by the role it plays within a larger political context. Cities serve as administrative, commercial, religious, and cultural hubs for their larger surrounding areas.
People all across the world are working to push the boundaries on what it means to become one of the most modern cities and they are using their forward-thinking and innovative efforts in technology, architecture, city planning, and social issues to become models of modernity.
Requirements for a city in Uganda
According to the Local Governments Act CAP 243 Section 32, sub sec. 1(a) iii, and (b) i to iv for an area to qualify for a city status,
1. It should have a population of 350,000 people (reduced from 500,000)
2. It should also have a master plan for land use.
3. The area must have office space.
4. It should also have water sources
5. Have capacity to meet its cost of delivery of services.
6. A city should also be able to raise 50 per cent of the revenue it needs for its projects. (not in act)
Does Jinja meet the requirements?
According to the 2014 National Population and Housing Census, Jinja had a total population of 471,243 people; 230,189 males and 241,053 females. However, during day, Jinja’s population day time population increases to between 500,000 to 800,000 people.
Jinja is one of the major tourist attractions in Uganda and many Africa safari travelers have opted to visit Uganda for a Uganda safari or Uganda safaris. Tourists interested in Uganda adventure safaris normally add a Jinja city tour or just a 1 day Jinja city tour in their itinerary so they enjoy the Uganda safari activities in Jinja source of the Nile.
- Master plan for Land Use
Jinja has the best master plan for Land use in Uganda compared to all other regions. Its master land for land use dates back to colonial times where the town was carefully subdivided into commercial, industrial, residential and protected areas. This Master Plan was updated and emphasized during the Mayor Kezaala regime in anticipation for City Status between 2005 and 2008.
- Office Space
Jinja town already has office space to accommodate the city council. The Jinja town hall, with some adjustment and refurbishing can easily be transformed into Jinja City Hall to house Jinja City Council. Jinja has very few commercial office spaces compared to Kampala, Wakiso and Mbarara.
However, construction of commercial office space is just picking up in recent times as a result of a marked increase in demand with new facilities like the NSSF building, Igar Plaza, Ganshi towers etc. coming up.
- Water Source
Jinja is located along the shores of world’s second & Africa’s largest fresh water lake, Lake Victoria. Jinja is proudly home to the source of the Nile; world’s longest river, River Nile. Many travelers have visited Jinja source of the Nile during their Jinja source of the Nile tours or Jinja day trip and have enjoyed the source of the Nile boat cruise along Lake Victoria, white water rafting in Jinja source of the Nile along River Nile, kayaking in Jinja source of the Nile along River Nile, quad biking in Jinja source of the Nile, horse riding in Jinja source of the Nile, cycling in Jinja source of the Nile and many more.
Besides Lake Victoria and River Nile, Jinja is also blessed with several other numerous streams, swamps etc., making it a very stable water source. According to the UBOS abstract 2015, Jinja water supply target population stands at 90%, the highest in Uganda. Jinja also has the second largest piped water coverage in Uganda, after Kampala.
- Ability to meet social services
Social services include Health, Education, Water, Roads, Garbage Collection, street lighting among others. Jinja is supposed to make sure it meets the cost of providing these services to its people.
In terms of services already on ground
- Jinja has the second highest number of health facilities in Uganda at over 100 (UBOS abstract 2015)
• Jinja has six Universities, over 20 institutes of higher education, over 100 secondary schools and over 150 primary schools.
• Jinja urban areas have close to 90% piped water coverage, although in rural areas it drops below 50%
• Street lighting and garbage collection policy need overhaul. Most major roads with the exception of Nalufenya Road are normally dark at night.
A city should also be able to raise 50 per cent of the revenue it needs for its projects.
Currently Jinja can only manage to raise less than 10% of its budgetary needs according to government budget website, budget.go.ug. However, it’s able to raise at between 15 to 25% for its projects and activities, if the wage bill cost which falls under central government is removed.
In conclusion, Jinja is slated to become one of Uganda’s most attractive cities since it is a town with a combination of multiple tourist attractions that attract for Jinja city tours. It also has a good number of industries coupled with immense untapped natural resources for both tourism and industry. The grant of official status from government will simply accelerate the progress already made on ground.
Given the fact that there are a lot of attractions in Jinja source of the Nile or what to see in Jinja source of the Nile on your Jinja day trip, there are lots of safari activities to do in Jinja source of Nile as well as accommodation in Jinja source of the Nile or where to stay in Jinja on your short Uganda safari.
After your Jinja city tour, you can visit Murchison Falls National Park, for a short Uganda wildlife safari, or a Uganda wildlife safari in North Western Uganda. You can also undertake a Uganda cycling adventure safari, short Uganda gorilla safari in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale National Park for a Uganda chimpanzee trekking safari or for a leisure safari in Lake Bunyonyi. Other parks in Uganda include, Lake Mburo National Park, Semuliki National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park, and many more.