By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) — The Cabinet of Uganda has resolved to demolish what remains of the Makerere University main building—one year after a devastating fire consumed the historic building in flames.
Minister Chris Baryomunsi said the structure will be rebuilt. “We have also directed the Minister of finance to release US$3 billion for the reconstruction of the building,” he told the press.
The Cabinet decision comes months after recommendations made late last year by a committee that was set up to study and assess the structural integrity of what remained of the Makerere University main building. The committee recommended that the entire building be demolished.
Makerere University is Uganda’s largest and oldest institution of higher learning, first established as a technical school in 1922. The iconic main building, also known as the Ivory Tower, was gutted by a mysterious fire on Sept. 19 sending a shock wave across the country, as history spanning close to eight decades was reduced to ashes.
Days after the dark day, the University Council announced a restoration plan. However there was a need to understand the integrity of the structure before a decision on the scope of the work could be taken.
Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the University Vice-Chancellor, said the report by a team of engineers highlighting the recommendation to demolish the building had been submitted to the University Council.
Prof. Nawangwe, who is also a professional architect, said the building was extensively damaged because the technology used during its construction lacked the reinforcement to strengthen concrete, plaster, or mortar by embedding steel rods or wire mesh in it. Due to excessive heat, he said, all the walls cracked and the best option at hand was demolishing it.
Prof. Nawangwe said the plan was to rebuild the structure using modern technology but ensuring that it looks exactly as it was.
In a separate development, Makerere Professor Mahmood Mamdani will be leaving the institution, having come to the end of his two-term tenure of five years each. A search to fill his position as head of the Makerere Institute of Social Research has been opened. Mamdani is expected to clinch the nomination of one of the World’s Top 50 Thinkers for 2021 by Prospect magazine in its annual list. [IDN-InDepthNews – 06 September 2021]
Photo: Makerere University tower. CC BY 2.0
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