President Museveni Okays USD100m Revamp of National Theater Amidst Controversies

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Minister Janat Mukwaya
Minister Janat Mukwaya

KAMPALA, Uganda..Last year we broke in this investigative online how enemies of development were trying to prevent the redevelopment of the 58 year old dilapidated Uganda National Cultural Center (UNCC) popularly known as the National Theater.

The Investigator has reliably established that after the ‘enemies of change and development’ fighting from within tried in vain to thwart the USD$ 3 million revamp of the entertainment facility, the fountain of honor, and president Yoweri Museveni has okayed the move. The scuffles involved parliamentary committee investigations into the allegations that the 13 acre facility had been sold to a foreign investors. But we can report that after investigations were conducted, by parliament, the Inspector General of Government and Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social development, Cabinet has finally okayed the move.

Speaking to The Investigator in an exclusive interview in Kampala on Tuesday afternoon, the Uganda National Cultural Center (National Theater), Executive Director Francis Ojede said: “ I am now relaxed. The truth has finally come and the proposed re-development of UNCC is going on as planned.” Ojede said construction of the three phase project would start before the end of the year. ‘What is happening now is PPDA is reviewing the Public Private Partnership, then we shall roll to get constructors to kickstart the project,” he said.

The Investigator last year wrote in this pages how the State Minister for Gender, Labor and Social Development Mutuuzo Peace told the press at the Uganda Media Center that government was not selling UNCC but revamping it.

The Investigator has now learnt that the senior minister, Madam Janat Mukwaya along with her technocrats and UNCC board and management have given the project a nod after the presindetg was briefed.

Why the revamp?

Uganda National Cultural Center (UNCC) popularly known as the National Theater has been in a sorry state for over six decades, yet it is located in the heart of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, adjacent to Parliament.

According to the proposed plan, the facility is set to be transformed into a mega complex with a multimillion shopping mall, arcades, modern restaurants, bars, cinemas, Rest rooms, state of the art auditoriums and a six underground car parking.

According to documents obtained by The Investigator, the plans for the mega project that will cost a whooping USD 100 million (Ugx 360b) has already got the blessing and approval of cabinet, the board, the mother Ministry of Gender and Labor as well as nod from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDP).

How will the multi billion project be secured?

According to Francis Peter Ojede, the Executive director, the Uganda National Cultural Center (UNCC), the project will be executed under the PPP- Public Private Partnership. The Investigator has learnt that so far one of the four international companies that had already expressed interest in funding the project has been picked. Among them is the United Bank of Africa (UBA), a leading continental bank.

According to the approved architectural plans drawn by Ssentoogo and Partners Architects and Planning Consultants (that we obtained), the circular 28 storied complex will not affect the existing National Theatre building cultural and heritage center. The new transformation will see the 57 year old heritage center transformed into a modern ultra entertainment spot. According to Ojede, the funders of the project will be granted 10-15 years to recollect the money they injected in before handing it over to the UNCC.

The UNCC that is currently generating UGX2 billion from locally raised revenues from rent and other collections annually will raise its collections to over UGX50 billion a year once the project that is going to be conducted in phases is complete.

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Patrick Jaramogi is a trained Crime, Financial and Fraud investigative journalist. He is a senior writer and Editor at the Investigator. He can be reached via email: pjaramogi@gmail.com or watsup +256772426211​​​
  • Twana

    It is good to read this but I would rather the planners went back to the drawing board with added scope, re-think fast-forward. What if they considered re-designing it (again) to add about 10 more floors to the super structure with view of renting the extra office space to the MPs nearby? The UNCC is strategically located, adjacent to parliament and the CBD so it could attract the right clientele that could bring in more cash. This can solve Govt’s problems of lack of offices for our MPs, or even other ministries that might be in need of space. I believe the re-design can’t be very difficult (though it might increase the architects fee), as it would mostly entail adjusting the structural engineering design to support the added structure/weight. Actually this article reminds me of when I was in Kampala and saw Kisozi House behind Norman Cinema being closed, I didn’t know whether it was for repairs or just, but it made me realize that office space suitable for some clientele was lacking. Maximize this opportunity for that site, it might never get another face lift chance in the next 100 years!!