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3200 pupils may have  to go elsewhere

If the government insists on demolishing the Uganda museum so as to build the East African Trade Tower, there will be serious ramifications for the immediate environment, architects involved in the project have warned.

The Observer has learnt that the government has been told it must relocate Kitante primary school and the offices of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The two private firms tasked to draw architectural designs of the proposed 60-storey tower, argue that the demolition and construction may cause “health and safety issues for occupants so close to a very large construction site.”

Sources said  most of the architectural design work was done by the UK-based firm Capita Symonds. On its website (, Capita Symonds describes itself as “one of the UK’s largest, multifaceted consultancies delivering property and infrastructure projects on a local, national and international scale.” It was assisted by Plan Systems, a Uganda-based firm.

Our emailed questions to Capita Symonds to clarify on some aspects of the designs and on the recommendations went unanswered by press time. The 23-page report by the two firms is undated but sources in the Tourism ministry said it was completed in December 2010.

We understand it was heavily premised on a project proposal designed by the ministry explaining why Uganda needed such a project. The Observer has obtained both documents.
Schola Ndyagabaki, the head teacher of Kitante primary school, expressed shock about the impending relocation, saying it could spell disaster for the school.

“We have 3,202 pupils. Where will you put all these? Government has to be careful,” she told The Observer at the school yesterday.

Ndyagabaki feared that the relocation would affect the enrolment of pupils, citing the example of Shimoni demonstration school, which she said had 4,000 pupils but after the relocation only 600 pupils remained.

In 2006 amidst public opposition, the government demolished Shimoni demonstration school along Nile avenue, to give way for the construction of a five-star hotel. It is not clear whether the relocation of Kitante primary school will be permanent or temporary but the project proposal estimates that the construction of the tower will take between six and ten years.

Given the criticism the project has already attracted from cultural activists, a source in the Tourism ministry told The Observer this week that some officials in the ministry fear that if the impending relocation of the school becomes public knowledge, it will embolden those opposed to the entire project.

Our attempts to get a comment from officials in the ministry overseeing this project were futile as no one wanted to comment. As for the museum, the firms argue that theoretically it can be located behind the building. They, however, warn this would “set up a clash of scale between the massive new building and the retained museum”, thereby undermining its importance. They consequently recommend that the museum be demolished.


According to the architectural designs, the East African Trade Tower, at 300 metres in height, will be the ‘tallest in Africa’. The architects’ report says the tower will be taller than the Carlton Centre, an office tower in Johannesburg which at 220 meters is currently considered to be the tallest building on the continent.

The architects have proposed three structural design options, one of which government could use. The tower can be built in shape of a waterfall to bring out the fact that Uganda has a strong relationship with nature.

There is also the option of building three semi-detached towers, symbolising one of the three original member states of the East African Community (Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania). The third option is that of a Crane, which is inspired by the Crested Crane, the national bird.

Yet whatever design government settles for, the architects recommend a robust procurement process be put in place that details “the standards required and the very specialist experience and skills that must be provided such a tall building and which ensures that those standards are met.”

On its part, government says the tower will be a “beacon as well as a vehicle for Uganda’s continuing economic success, projecting Uganda as the Pearl of Africa.” It will also address the shortage of office space in Kampala, especially for various government institutions.

“Government’s infrastructure is inadequate to cater for office space and house her civil servants who are ever on the increase. Government has to spend millions of taxpayer’s money every year on renting properties to house some of her public force against a stretched budget,” the 31-page proposal says.

It anticipates that the total cost of the project will be $750m, which is equivalent to Shs 1.8 trillion.  Since the proposal was drawn in 2010, the figure is likely to rise due to a general increase in the cost of building materials over the past two years.

The government admits that it cannot raise that money and it is relying on a private investor who upon completion of the building will operate it for 30 years. After that period, government believes the investor will have recouped his/her investment.

According to the proposal, the government had hoped that by September 2011 construction would begin and that the investor would hand back the building government after recouping the investment by August 2036.

However, due to strong opposition from a wide section of society, government decided to temporality halt the project. The Court of Appeal is yet to dispose of a suit filed by a consortium of civil society organisations opposed to the project.

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+6 #1 huh ! 2012-07-25 04:40
Museveni! I went to this primary school many years ago. Many a student has gone through its doors. The many minds that have been trained and gone on to greener pastures.

It is clear that the Ugandan government seems to think that schools can be demolition in the name of greed and nothing will be done about it. With the revalation of this news I truly swear that I personally will see to it that this government pays for its calousness. Shimoni what next?
+4 #2 huh ! 2012-07-25 05:23
Sebalwanyi your days are numbered !
+4 #3 jnsubuga 2012-07-25 05:30
I think the current regime has gone too far with privatization and investments. Even New York City, London and Osaka have educational, hospitals and cultural heritage zones that for schools, cemeteries and museums. Where are city residents to educate their children? Rwakitura?

Why are we pillaging our land, selling to the highest bidder? We have failed to maintain the little we have, only encouraging plunder and corruption. Kampala has no recreational parks, all sold to the highest bidders disguised as investors. I say that we should not get rid of the only museum we have.

We do not need investors to tell us who we are. We have a history as people and nation and want to save the little we have for the future generations. jnsubuga, Zirobwe
+6 #4 steven kasiko 2012-07-25 06:52
Museveni's government is there to mess up our country he has outlived his usefullness

at this time do we need such a building what much 's it going to contribute to our economy in terms of capital inflow we know these are projects for Museveni and his mafia Ugandans are fedup Museveni's hopeless bogus project

This will end up like the Simoni Demonstration School
Cant Museveni's government get land else where why build everything in kampala

TheseNRM mafia have grabbed all the wet lands reserve parks
Can you spare the school and get land else where a school 's more viable than this tower
+3 #5 Lumbix 2012-07-25 07:30
Just wondering what this government is upto: Shimoni land up to now, one wonders why there was a rush to demolish it.
+5 #6 amos 2012-07-25 08:17
May God help our country.I wonder why kitante is the only place they can set up this project?
+5 #7 mwami 2012-07-25 08:44
Why relocate Kitante primary which has been located in a very quite and serene environment. I propose that EA trade tower is constructed at the current location of the Nakasero state lodge.

Afterall the preseident has a better facility in Entebbe. In fact this will decongest KLA since all related offices will shift to Entebbe. How much more trafic congestion will such a structure add on the Mulago round about and acacia road. Even me a school drop out can see that!!! Why can't those with a vision see this. OH Uganda may GOD uphold thee!!!!!!!!!!! !
+5 #8 Allan 2012-07-25 09:22
What kind of joke is this? Let those guys touch my school and they will see the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
+2 #9 Pius 2012-07-25 09:36
Why does Uganda still have to seek external help. Don't we have intelligent Engineers and architects in the country.
+3 #10 Vincent Kizza 2012-07-25 09:39
Change that destroys the track record of one's heritage is no development and this project seems to do just that.

That is why there seems to be no plan to ensure expert relocation of the museum. This is the same backward disposition that burnt the kasubi tombs!
+2 #11 Lusajjalubi 2012-07-25 10:12
This country is beyond ill, for leaders to think that a three hundred metre building(i hear the tallest in africa) will improve the country's economic growth?

this at the cost of already existing infrastructure like kitante primary school and UWA offices? believe me if that tower is built.. its going to be so substandard that it will one day collapse and kill alot of ugandans, History will bear me out. What Kind of curse has God put on to our country?
+1 #12 Mugisha- Bushenyi 2012-07-25 10:14
WAPI, nobody should lie, the guys behind the take over of Uganda Museum are not foreigners, they are indiginous ugandan thieves and hey include Patrick Bagarukayo of the infamous L.C bicycle scandal.

They learn t that there would be issues to do with parking and therefore plotted the take over of Kitante and Wild Life Authority offices for road access. Just do your home work at the company's registry.
+2 #13 Jim Kamezza 2012-07-25 11:09
Uganda lacks planned development and vision , those who still dream of little compacted Kampala are wrong ,shopping malls will a thing of the past soon and many will close as shoppers will go online and get more picky
-16 #14 kamparaaaaa 2012-07-25 11:12
why oppose a uganda building the highest tower in all africa honestly?? london just finished opening the highest tower in all europe, funded and owned by rich arab investors.

all these comments here sound like usual tribal gibberish and no sensible critism. the essence of a museuem is the artifacts within it,which can be moved elsewhere, same with the school. im sure the kenyans or kigali would be more than happy to snap up this project if we fail it. shame on u ugandans.
+2 #15 bitula kamu 2012-07-25 11:25
Once a villager always a villager!! These villagers who went to Kyamatte ssimanyi where dont want to see these schools around. Thats why they want to demolish them all in the name of development.Woe unto us!
+4 #16 Joe Kat 2012-07-25 11:34
words can't express the magnitude of anger rising within me.....i felt deeply sorry for the students at the time , Old Boys and Girls of the late Shimoni, "i can now say i now haw they felt."

we are what we are today with our employers so proud of us, simply because of KITANTE PRIMARY SCHOOL foundation-"the best school in the world, so we sung in the anthem, The queen of England couldn't miss visiting the school for any thing.
God save us all...!
+4 #17 Gina 2012-07-25 11:34
Very soon the only primary school that will remain in the city will be Greenhill Academy! I see Nakasero and Buganda Road also going!

Then all ordinary families living in the city will have to send their kids to schools in Mukono or move back to the village with them, as Greenhill, Kampala Parents, Kampala Junior Academy and the like will be out of their reach!Why must these so-called developments be concentrated where development already exists? Why not build this Trade Centre in Kinawataka or Kisenyi or even Walukuba??!!
+3 #18 julius 2012-07-25 11:46
what`s wrong with KAMWOKYA? why can`t gov`t look for another place? why demolish kitante or Uganda Museum

I propose they construct that EAC building in TEMANGALO land.Pliz leave the school & that prestigeous cultural heritage plizzzzzzz
Museveni tokoyeeeeeeee
+3 #19 sembera simon 2012-07-25 11:53
why relocate kitante p/s yet we have vast land in Bugweri more over used, aftreall its East africa trade tower not kampala trade tower, am ready to give them free land for this project in bugweri but they should leave the museum and kitante alone
+3 #20 ama 2012-07-25 12:03
am of the view that let this building be constructed along jinja kla highway or even after seeta,that way we shall be encouraging developments in other areas

if done so i assure you govt will be forced to construct good road network to such places other than congesting the already congested city .kitante is such a good school with good infrastrusture i really wouldnt want it demolished

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