If you were a city authority and there are old dilapidated buildings that do not meet the minimum requirements of the city, what would you do to such buildings? Compel owners to demolish them? Use bull dozers to bring them down by force? Go into negotiations with the owners to agree on time frames on when they will make good such structures? Allow the owners to fence off the structures to keep their unsightly appearance from the eyes of the public? These are some of the questions that KCCA could be grappling with today as more and more buildings in the city are getting into a state of disrepair thus compromising the beauty of the city.
There are many buildings today in Kampala which were built as way back as 1920s. They have thus by far outlived their lifespan. Some of them are too old and ramshackle to be renovated or repaired. Some of them are condemned and are supposed to be demolished as soon as possible since they are an eyesore to the city’s appearance. They give the city a bad image by spoiling the outlook of the area in which they are located. One of such buildings is the former offices of Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) on Buganda Road. Constructed in early 1920s by Indians, the set of buildings were proven to be too dilapidated to house a national agency. No amount of renovation could bring the buildings to the required standards. They underwent several renovations but all proved futile. UHRC was later to abandon the buildings altogether after occupying the same for close to eighteen years since its creation in 2007. The offices were being repainted regularly as part of the maintenance arrangement. However no major renovation had ever been undertaken. It reached a point where layers of paint could no longer hold on to the old one. With an old roof, the building was leaking in most parts and was consequently deemed unusable. This is just one of the many old buildings that have far outlived their design life.
There are a host of other buildings that were constructed in 1930s and 40s and are currently in a state of disrepair. Buildings such as the one that houses Biplous on Kampala road and the one next as you move towards Bombo Road. The latter is so old one wouldn’t image it being in the center of any city! In fact KCCA needs to urgently close and order for its demolition in public interest because it is an accident in waiting. Although new buildings are slowly replacing old ones on Kampala road, Luwum street, Ben Kiwanuka Street, Wilson Street, among other roads in the city, it is the considered view of URSSI that there has to be a threshold and minimum standards for buildings in the city especially those in the inner CBD. The city cannot continue tolerating buildings that are in a state which puts the lives of the occupiers as a high risk since they can collapse any time due to old age. It is possible that owners could still be mobilizing resources to either demolish or carry out major facelift of such buildings. This however cannot be accepted forever. Besides, some of the buildings as mentioned above and others are beyond redemption and need to be urgently pulled down. URSSI urges KCCA to start up a campaign to engage owners of dilapidated buildings in the city to work on them in a specified time frame or period. Failure to comply should attract heavy penalties and later outright demolition at the owners’ expense. With this, we shall have a cleaner beautiful and safe city.