Why Museum Site Is Commercially Wrong For EA Trade Centre

An excellent investment in a wrong place

Published on 2 April 2011

Author(s): RedPepper/Alex Bukumunhe

Type:  Opinion

Part of the Museum land is a wetland which, apart from interfering with the ecological system of the area, will be risky to construct such a gigantic building

Government’s proposal to raze the current Museum and construct a multi-billion 60-storied commercial building has already drawn vicious criticism from the Cultural Conservation Civil society organizations.

Though government looks at the monetary value it will come with, critics have already labeled it ‘an excellent investment in a wrong place.’ They argue that poor location of this multi-billion building dubbed the ‘East African Trade Centre’ is likely to affect its expected returns.

The trade centre will be constructed at Kitante along Kira Road replacing the current National Museum. Ellady Muyambi, the Executive Director of Historic Resource Conservation Initiative (HRCI) notes that there is only one access route to the Museum and turning it into a trade centre is likely to make worse the already bad transport situation along this route and the city as a whole. This, coupled with the fact that business is a fast venture may deprive this big investment some prospective customers.

Muyambi further notes that part of the Museum land is a wetland which, apart from interfering with the ecological system of the area, will be risky to construct such a gigantic building because it is likely to lead to future accidents if the soils reclaimed finally giveaway due to climatic changes.

Children at the Museum Uganda.jpg
Children at the National Museum, Uganda

He noted that because of its height, the trade centre is likely to become a security threat to its neighbourhoods. “The Museum is surrounded by the Rwandese Embassy, the British Council, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and the German Embassy among other sensitive establishments. Therefore, putting such a tall building in this area will mean that whoever will be on its top will clearly watch what goes on inside these places thus risking their privacy and security,” he explained.

Muyambi added that the 11.5 acres on which the Museum currently sits is not enough for the kind of investment that government wants to set up. He says such an investment will attract other businesses which might not be accommodated on the building thus causing unbearable congestion. “Government should just look for another place like Namanve Industrial Park or anywhere else outside the city centre if it wants to get value for money,” he said.

Rose Nkaale, the Commissioner Museums and Monuments, also disagrees with the idea of constructing a trade centre at this place. “The trade centre will keep away certain groups of visitors to the museum since it will house the Ministry of Tourism offices. Mental health patients from Butabika Hospital are often taken to the Museum and looking at the artifacts there helps with their healing process.

The noise that will come with shopping malls of the Centre will deprive the museum of such a function,” she argues. Already four organizations; Historic Resources Conservation Initiatives, Cross-Culture Foundation of Uganda, Historical Building Conservation Trust and JENGA-Africa have already dragged government to court citing the intrinsic value of museum that cannot met by any amount of money.

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