Getting Directions in Uganda

“When you get to a big mango tree you turn left and you will see an anthill. After that anthill …”

Now, imagine a scenario when the one who is giving you directions has not been back to the area in a while. Yes, chances that the big mango tree was cut and is no longer there are there or that the anthill has since been dug up or both.

Many of our properties in Uganda are not clearly labeled. Thus, it is often the case that we resort to giving directions using trees, anthills and prominent structures. What else can we do, since our neighborhood roods are often not clearly labeled with road signs.

Or, when road signs are put, often they are done properly – in a way that it is easy for one who is driving, for example, to miss it. This is whyon my evening walk in Entebbe recently, I appreciated how so well the Children’s Surgical Hospital had placed signage directing us to the hospital’s location.

I saw at least four signposts in different locations that directed people coming from at least three different directions.

The first signpost of the Children’s Surgical Hospital that I saw while I walked.

Some may think this a joking subject, but it is serious. In some cases, even when you rely on modern technology to find your way round, in Uganda it could turn out to be a nightmare for you.

Sometimes back, for example, I heard of a group of expatriates who got lost on their way to a wedding ceremony in rural Uganda. The experts trusted Google Maps and or whatever mobile phone app. When they finally got to the wedding ceremony they had missed the main event.

2 responses to “Getting Directions in Uganda”

  1. It’s very challenging to use those technologies especially in areas where even there are no mobile networks for making phone calls yet the Google maps used in smartphones needs a first internet of at least 3G for effective location, another scenario is that Google maps also survived on data fed into it by humans, now that person in Europe managing Google maps doesn’t know anything or names in our rural villages because it has not been captured into the Google map system, hence leading to someone getting lost and more confused!!! I urged mayors of new cities created in Uganda to at least label most roads that connects the community around for easy allocation of places even by visitors.


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