By Watchdog reporter
The Executive Director of Uganda National Cultural Centre popularly referred to as the national theatre has said the facility will not be demolished as sections of the media have been reporting.
Mr Francis Peter Ojede told the media on Friday morning that UNCC will not be demolished and be replaced with a shopping mall as reported, but his management was after renovations for the 58 year old facility.
The national theatre building was officially opened in 1959, and ever since, no major renovation has been carried out on the facility yet the building was depreciating.
The building got a facelift during the 2007 CHOGM and Ojede calls it a minor renovation.
Ojede says “The flat roof which is incompatible with the tropical climate has continued to leak despite regular repairs. The component of the asbestos above the stage is outlawed and is overdue for replacement. The proscenium arch stage has also depreciated; the lighting and sound system can no longer support creativity in modern art”.
The National Theatre, a prime located popular hangout in Kampala, is one of the prime spaces eyed by developers. Yet, the facility is an eyesore on the fast rising Kampala skyline, largely due to poor maintenance.
The executive director himself admits that the seats in the auditorium, a key space in the facility, were breaking everyday despite repairs. He also contended that lavatories are also in need of renovation, in addition to the sewage system which can longer accommodate the current huge traffic in the place.
“After the renovation project, we shall have a better facility that is in line and supports the state of art in the performing arena. The public should know that we are renovating the place not demolishing as many allege,” he added.
Tenants to move or not
Complant Engineering Trade Uganda Ltd has been selected to carry out these major renovations on the facility for a period of at least six months at a cost of Shs3billion. The renovation exercise is expected to start in July 2017.
Whereas renovations are to carried out in phases, tenants and other stakeholders might be affected, as they will be asked to find another place to carry out their business from.
“There will be a lot of interference and movements during this period and we intend to relocate some activities to the parking yard, craft village and Nommo Gallery,” Mr Ojede added.
Some tenants will certainly be asked to leave the premises.
“After finalising with the contractor, we are going to write officially to the tenants, invite them for a meeting about how we are going to handle this exercise. This is a temporary arrangement and after renovations, we shall call back all the people and occupy their offices,” he said.
“For those tenants who want to stay while work is in progress, there are safety standards that KCCA, engineers and contractors set for those occupants. I need a contractor to advise me on this issue,” Ojede said.
He, however, said if a tenant is given an option to stay during the renovation exercise, they will be required to sign a disclaimer agreement, which in case of an accident during this period, the management of UNCC will not be accountable.