Jinja approves campus for Makerere University

Makerere University Jinja branch which is housed at National Water and Sewerage Corporation building on Bell Avenue East Jinja City. PHOTO/TAUSI NAKATO

What you need to know:

  • The city expects the university to be at an international standard to provide an alternative solution to the missing facilities at the main campus in Kampala.

Jinja City leaders have accepted a proposal by Makerere University to set up a permanent campus in the area.
In 2009, the university started a campus at Bell Avenue in Jinja City, which currently runs seven courses studied by the 750 students accommodated at a rented facility in Jinja Town.

The leaders, led by the Jinja City mayor, Mr Peter Kasolo, said they are ready with land at the defunct Budondo Sub-county, current Jinja North City Division, for implementing this request tabled by the Jinja Campus director, Dr Ronald Kakungulu.

“Makerere University came up with a formal request to the City Council because previously, they had made a request to the Division yet the issue of land is being handled by the City. I advise them to write to me so that I present it to the executive so that it sits to make a minute for approval,’’ he said in an interview on Monday.
He added that although there have been delays in implementing this request, leaders have ironed out their disagreements arising out of the wrong procedure to acquire the land.

Mr Kasolo described this development as “the biggest achievement in his term of office”. He added that he is trying to do “everything possible” to ensure that Makerere University establishes a permanent campus in Jinja City.

“I discussed with the Council Speaker about the urgency of this matter (Makerere University having a permanent campus in the area), which he received with positivity. I request all leaders to support it,” he said. 
Mr Kasolo said setting up a permanent Makerere University campus in the area will come with a number of opportunities, including better standards of living for residents around the institution, affordable university education, sprouting and growth of businesses, and above all, further development of the city.

“The vulnerable students will be able to access education because they will not incur more costs in terms of accommodation and food for those coming from Jinja City. Besides, the university will attract more people, who will use resources that will boost people’s businesses and livelihoods,’’ he said.
Mr Kasolo further said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is being entered between Jinja City Council and Makerere University to see that the land is handed over.

Mr Ayub Wabika, the Jinja North City Division mayor, where the land in question is located, said the process for its giveaway to Makerere University is “on course”. 
“On December 28 last year, the council interacted with Makerere and it inspected the land to see whether the land has no encumbrance,’’ he said, adding that they plan to convene an extraordinary council meeting before the end of this month to make a resolution.

Mr Wabika said the land measures about 52 acres but that they are planning to give Makerere University 20 acres for the start and expect the institution to, among other things, help develop the Budondo community as part of its corporate social responsibility.
Mr Wabika was, however, particularly concerned with the issue of scholarships, road construction, health centres and school rehabilitation.
Dr Kakungulu said they expect the university to be at an international standard to provide an alternative solution to the missing facilities at the main campus in Kampala.

“Right now, the facilities at Makerere University in Kampala are under capacity because the facility there cannot accommodate 10,000 people. Here, the conference halls are going to be bigger to solve this problem,” said Dr Kakungulu.
He added that when Makerere University hosts international conferences, they are taken to hotels yet they would be held at the campus.
Dr Kakungulu further explained that they would prefer that City Council gives them all 52 acres of the land, saying they are ready to develop every property on it using their funds, some of which is expected to come from donors, the government and tuition, as has been the case.

Already, he said, the institution has money to start construction works by July 1, once land is allocated to them. He added that education and law courses will be added to the existing ones once the university sets up a permanent campus in Jinja City.

The development, he added, will also absorb the ever-increasing number of students from the Eastern region, who are hit by high cost of living in Kampala as they pursue education at the main Makerere campus.
Dr Kakungulu said the demand for enrolment at the Jinja Campus is high but is being limited by space and regulations by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE).

Ms Annet Musika, the former Budondo Sub-county councillor to the district, said if the land being offered is not enough, they can write to the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to offer part of its reserved land in the area for Makerere University to expand.

“When I was still the district councillor, we wrote to NFA to offer 10 acres of land where we established Bususwa Primary School. This can also be done for Makerere University if land in Budondo is not enough,” Ms Musika said.
She added that there is also land in Buwagi, where Kaguta Technical College was supposed to be. 
“This land can be added to Makerere University since it is situated near the Budondo Sub-county land,” Ms Musika suggested.

Mr Emma Muchake, a Makerere University Jinja Campus alumnus and former Guild President (2013-2014), said he reduced the cost of accommodation and feeding by joining a university in his home area.
He said what makes the university education expensive is the accommodation and feeding but for this case, the university will be extending education services at a reduced cost to vulnerable students in the area.