Maderena Naiga 55, has been sweeping the streets in Kawempe Division for more than a year now without pay. She is employed under the 7 Hills group, one of the two groups that Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA deals with to clean the city.
Naiga says she joined 7 Hills on 26th August 2021 when she was registered from their offices in Kawempe along Mambule Road.
“We were told that there are jobs at the RCC’s office (7 Hills offices in Kawempe are located on the same building where the office of the Kawempe Division deputy Resident City Commissioners-DRCC is). They said that the jobs are for thugs seeking to reform and sex workers, but also that old people can be recruited “said Naiga.
She adds that she joined along with hundreds of others but have since never been paid. Their supervisors have kept them on promises, assuring them that the money shall be paid.
Naiga says that they have been made to open bank accounts thrice, in Bank of Africa and Equity Bank in 2021 and less than two months back in Housing Finance Bank. For the first two accounts, they were told that those were invalid and that’s why they needed to open the third one through which their salaries would be sent. They were also asked to buy brooms for sweeping, and were promised Identify Cards but to no avail.
She and her colleagues are yet to receive a singke coin in payment, IDs and equipment to help them in doing their work. But she says, they are still hopeful.
Naiga who lives in Kyebando with her three grandchildren survives on money she makes from the tailoring business she runs at her home. She was operating from a friend’s veranda before KCCA demolished the structure during its smart city campaign that saw several structures in road reserves razed.
On Wednesday, Naiga was one of the more than 5,000 causal working in Kampala who gathered at Kololo Independence ground to meet officials from KCCA led by the Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka. The authority organized the day naming it front liners day to meet casual workers who include sweepers, drainage workers, landscape maintainers, garbage collectors among others.
To attend the event, Naiga and others were told that it’s there that the KCCA team shall answer to their queries.
The 7 Hills group rose to fame earlier last year 2021 as volunteers helping KCCA casual laborers to keep the city clean especially through desilting drainage channels. Initially marketed as a group of former thugs seeking to reform and sex workers, it soon expanded, registering more people outside the known category.
The group later started agitating for employment, causing tension among KCCA casual laborers who operated under SACCOS established at the five divisions of Kampala. Conflict ensued between the two groups as laborers collided while on assignments. Although 7 Hills had registered over 500 laborers in each division, a source at KCCA confirmed that only 100 were recognized by the Authority and hence paid.
“Others could have been registered by their leaders who are known to KCCA as laborers and lied to them that they would get pay,” the source revealed, adding that some of them (7 Hill workers) have an informal arrangement with their leaders for whom they work and get some little pay daily.However, none of the 7 Hill members who aren’t paid that talked to Uganda Radio Network admits to the existence of such an arrangement.
Apart from Naiga and her likes from 7 Hill who have never been paid, other workers also raised concern on delayed payment. Simon Gwayambadde from Lubaga division says that it’s coming to two years and they have to wait for more than two months to reserve partial payment covering only a month.
Gwayambadde says that with a meagre salary of 264000 that he earns, it’s difficult to sustain his family yet the money comes in late. One of the needs that consumes much of Gwayambadde money is medication for himself and his family. He appealed to KCCA that is they can’t insure a few of their family members, they should at least insure their employers.
On the question of 7 Hills workers who have never been paid, Dorothy Kisaka, the Executive Director of KCCA said that they can only employ the number of casual workers they can afford to pay. She however didn’t explain how the number of 7 Hill workers being paid were selected.
The ED said that Wednesday’s meeting gave them chance to meet the workers physically, listen to their grievances and go back and forge away forward. Kisaka didn’t however commit on paying the workers who have never been paid and also increasing the pay of those on their payroll.
At the same event, Kisaka said that they had purchased personal protective equipment such as overalls, gloves, and gumboots for workers to use and were asked each to pick their package from the offices of their respective town clerks starting Monday 17th October 2022.
However, although KCCA says that all casual laborers would receive the equipment, those who are not recognized, and not receiving salaries are skeptical that they will be catered for.
Salim Uhuru, the Kampala Central Division mayor who also represented the Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs Hajjat Minsa Kabanda asked KCCA to resolve whatever it is that delays workers’ salaries and hence pay them on time.
The Minister also asked KCCA to undertake the necessary procedures to increase salaries for the casual laborers.