Four civil society groups yesterday filed a suit at the High Court in Kampala, seeking an order to stop the government and its agents from demolishing the Uganda museum.
Historic Resources Conservation Initiatives, Cross Culture Foundation of Uganda, Historic Building Conservation Trust and Jenga Afrika, want the demolition halted until the main suit before court is heard and determined.
The museum was founded in 1954 and houses exhibits of traditional culture, archeology, history, science, and natural history. It is currently located on Plot 5 Kira Road in Kampala. The dispute surrounding the museum arose on January 14 when the Ministry of Tourism advertised in the media calling for bids to finance and design a 60-storey building where the museum is located.
The petitioners claim the government wants to demolish the museum and construct the East African Trade Centre.
Court records show that the government intends to resettle the Museum on two floors of the 60 storey East Africa Trade Centre upon completion. In his affidavit, Mr Jeff Wadulo, the executive director of Jenga Afrika, contends that the museum houses artifacts of national historic importance most of which are delicate in nature and may not survive removal to any place for keeping for 40 years when the East African Trade Centre will be under construction and management by persons other than government.
Mr Wadulo says the government did not carry out an environmental impact assessment as is required by the National Environment Act for development of such magnitude and therefore the proposed demolition is unlawful.
The petitioners contend that if the temporary injunction is not granted, Uganda will lose its treasured heritage. The proposed complex, the government says, will improve and promote Uganda’s physical infrastructure.
Court has subsequently summoned the Attorney General to file a defense to the allegations within 15 days from yesterday. Hearing of the case has been scheduled for March 21.