In what appears to be a compromise on nature and environment, KCCA has cut down 70 trees to pave way for the expansion and renovation of Kabakanjagala Road.
The candlenut trees, which have been in place for more than 100 years on the 1km stretch between the Kabaka’s Palace and Bulange, a city suburb, will be cut down in a Shs4.2 billion road project that will last eight months.
Lubaga Division Mayor Joyce Ssebuggwawo said the decision to cut down the trees was reached during a Wednesday meeting with Buganda Kingdom officials.
She, however, said the roundabout will be preserved and reconstructed to meet the standard of a city infrastructure. “A budget has been put aside to procure new good species of kabakanjagala (candlenut trees) from National Forestry Authority to replant them on the road after construction is done,” Ms Ssebuggwawo said in a joint press conference with the Buganda Kingdom premier J.B Walusimbi.
After the restoration of kingdoms in 1993, Buganda Kingdom allocated each of the trees to different clans in the kingdom. “They will continue to be used as symbols by the clans of Buganda and their totems embalmed on the trees,” Ms Ssebuggwawo. She added: “We also budgeted for the beautification and greening of the Royal Mailo after it has been constructed. We shall make sure that we restore its beauty and keep it clean.”
Asked on whether the move to cut down the trees would not spark protest in Buganda, Ms Ssebuggwawo said: “No one will have to complain because even when we were allocating the trees to the clans, we did not consult any one.” “They should wait because what we are going to put back is way better than what has been existing.”
Mr Walusimbi said the area has been identified as a potential tourist attraction site and therefore people should stay calm. “We are going to place totem sculptures on each of the new trees rather than the existing placards,” he said. Mr Walusimbi said the trees are old and some have dried up and yet “we have agreed that the place should be beautified”.
Mr Robert Tumwesigye, a Programme Officer at Uganda’s Historic Building Conservation Trust says that the move is not viable considering the historic value attached to the trees. “I don’t know whether the parties carried out any heritage impact assessment to know whether there could be an alternative than doing away with the trees or not. I just think it is not right,” Mr Tumwesigye said.