As our cities rapidly expand and modernize, nature continuous to bear the burden as it is constantly being dislocated. In Masaka, the green lush vegetation that adorned the city is slowly being replaced by grey impervious surfaces. Martha Nalukenge shares her insights into how changes in land cover have affected the city and its people.
Masaka becoming a city caught many by surprise. As much as we all felt happy about the change in status, the modernity and transformation in the city planning hit us like a new song. Speaking of modernity, a lot of roads are currently under reconstruction, which means that the existing roads are being widened. Improving and expanding the road network to new areas is indeed pleasing since it improves the infrastructure and eases the transportation of goods.
A cry for nature is a silent whisper due to the high hyped noise of modernism. The artistic impression of this latest modernity shows a realistic art of the fact that nature is perishing. A lot of avenues are being defaced because a lot of trees are being cut down by road constructors. The worst part is before a tree is cut down, buyers are already available. How I wish these buyers were environmentalists who are familiar with the benefits of nature and appreciated its beauty.
The Hundred Year Old Eucalyptus Tree
A petition to save the trees was made but unfortunately only a few people signed it, leaving the trees to the mercy of constructors and in harm’s way. We thank Lenke Slegers, a fervent advocate for the environment who runs Plot 99 Coffee house & Lounge in the shady Kizungu area of Masaka City. She took the strong initiative of trying to save a big one-hundred-year old eucalyptus trees.
Big, beautiful, hundred year old eucalyptus trees dot these roads, providing shade, cool air and a much needed beauty to the area, not forgetting a natural habitat to many birds. It’s too bad that these trees are earmarked for destruction, in the guise of making wider roads which might only evoke drivers to drive recklessly.
Cutting down so many trees without planting others heats up the city and leaves pedestrians walking under the burning sun without the shelter that those giant trees provide with their leafy branches. Some of these trees are older than most of us, might even be older than our grandparents. Nature has never caused us harm but the greed for modernity has made it perish. Yes, we need improved road network systems but we also need nature’s green untouched.
Tree harvesters are very self-indulgent, cutting and buying these trees without planting new ones. We can’t fight the already made decision by Masaka City Authority of extending the road network but we can feel the sobs of nature’s cry in the air we breathe. Let’s join hands and protect the environment in this country. This is not only happening in Masaka City alone but it’s a problem afflicting all areas where road construction and modernity is given priority over nature.
Loss of Jobs
Road construction is good for the growth of an area but if not done in an appropriate manner, it comes with a great cost. Roadside business owners have become redundant and poor because their small businesses closed down as a result of the construction. Businesses such as chicken roasting, Ugandan rolex (an omelet rolled inside a chapati), snacks and other retail shops that were operating along the road are no longer in existence. This is because the dust from the road construction contaminates their commodities making it difficult to sale. Owners have become jobless and are desperately in need of support to survive. Dust from road construction has a detrimental effect on a population’s health as dust causes infections and illnesses such as flu.
Because motorists have to create their own diversion routes away from the construction, they hike the cost of transport causing untold suffering to the local population. There are often several accidents resulting from the lack of proper diversion routes occasioned by the construction. People have been known to get into problems as they try to beat the curfew and dodge the roadblocks mounted along the roads.
What’s disappointing is that we are experiencing a lot of trees being cut, yet none of the perpetrators take the initiative of planting trees elsewhere. A cry for nature rises, it’s a whispering voice and with its last breath, it murmurs, “let’s save nature.”
Vice Versa Global is a platform spearheaded by young African journalists who are keen on telling the African story from the youth’s point of view by creating socially conscious content through vlogs, columns, video, articles and discussions in order to share ideas and spark dialogue about social change. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.