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Makerere university launches drive to restore iconic ivory tower

Professor Barnabas Nawangwe

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | The management of Makerere University has this afternoon launched platforms on which willing individuals and organizations can offer monetary contributions for the restoration of the iconic main building. The structure, widely referred to as the Ivory Tower, was gutted by fire on September 20. 

In the aftermath, students, alumni and well-wishers called for the expeditious restoration of the building ahead of the university centenary celebrations. Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe notes that while waiting for reports on the cause of the unfortunate incident, and quantifying of requirements for the restoration of the iconic building, many people seemed eager to offer support.

Prof Nawangwe notes that several people had already started sending the money on personal accounts of university administrators which could later lead to accountability queries thus the need to give out a formal mechanism of collecting the funds.

Through the campaign, the university seeks to reach out to an estimated 300,000 alumni spread across the world, current students, parents and former parents, friends of Makerere, organizations, and other people with an attachment to the university.

Currently, they have obtained a merchant code (542803) and also opened up two accounts in Stanbic Bank; 9030017778608 for contributions in US Dollars and 9030017778535 for contributions in Uganda Shillings. Prof. Nawangwe says that they are still looking forward to getting more platforms that people can use to make contributions.

After the unfortunate incident, the University Council approved the idea of fundraising for the restoration of the building. However, a committee which was set to manage the process is yet to be approved. In line with the proposal, Dr Tanga Odoi, the chairman Makerere University Convocation has already expressed interest in the process promising to mobilize all former students of the University to take heed at the call.     

There are several institutions and individuals who have already sent in their contributions. One of them is the  Mastercard Foundation which has given 3.7 billion Shillings part of which is to support the business continuity as the university reopens for final year students.

Meanwhile, a team of structural engineers from the Ministry of Works and the university are still on the scene assessing the razed building. They are expected to produce a report showing the impact of the fire on the building. 

Prof. Nawangwe notes that based on the report, they will quantify the loss and also compute the needed funds for the project. He, however, notes that they expect the restoration civil works to be above 15 billion Shillings which the chief government valuer had pinned as the value of the razed building in his 2019 report.

Records indicate that during the construction of the main building which began in 1938 funds came from the Colonial development course and contributions from several sources including regional governments, Uganda protectorate government and several individuals.

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