Uganda National Theatre tenants given one month eviction notice

Uganda National Theatre tenants given one month eviction notice
Uganda National Theatre Building in Kampala, Uganda. Courtesy Photo.

Tenants at the National Theatre have until the end of this month to vacate the premises. Uganda National Cultural Center (UNCC) ordered the tenants to pack their wares and move out during a meeting held on Wednesday last week.

Ivan Amanya, a lawyer with Mayende & Associated Advocates has been occupying Suite No. 15-17 on the second floor of the National Theatre Building.

According to Amanya, although he knew this was coming, given the redevelopment plans, he thinks tenants would be given more time, adding that month eviction notice is unfair.

Amanya says they are still consulting and will announce their next course of action when they receive the formal eviction notices. Veteran artist, Jack Sserunkuma, says they are concerned by the way government has taken their industry for granted.

He claims that they were never consulted about the proposed redevelopment of the National Theatre. Sserunkuma told this publication on Monday that the National Theater has been his sole source of income since 1974 where he has been performing from.

He faults the Uganda National Cultural Center for giving them short notice, saying they had already planned shows at the theater.

Some of the shows advertised on the National Theater notice boards include among others Batalo Dance Fest, which is scheduled between August 21st and 27th, 2017.

Julius Lugaya and Charles Batambuze, the secretary of the International Theater Institute Uganda Centre (ITI), share the same sentiments with Sserunkuma. The two say they are still waiting for a response from the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga on their petition on the matter.

Peter Francis Ojede, the Director Uganda National Cultural Center declined to speak to this publication and instead referred our reporter to the Public Relations Officer.

Roberts Musiitwa, the Spokesperson Uganda National Cultural Center confirmed the development, saying they will issue an official communication this week.

“Why do you want to pick things that are not yet ready, we will inform you at the right time. We are finalizing on a few things and we shall call you possibly this week to communicate the whole procedure,” Musiitwa said.

The National Theater has been in a sorry state for over six decades despite its prime location next to the parliament building. The National Theatre building is among 51 buildings and sites in Kampala, which were constructed before 1969.

This iconic 60-year-old piano-shaped building that houses the National Theatre in Kampala is set for demolition to pave way for a 36-storey modern tower. According to the proposed plan, the facility is set to be transformed into a mega complex with a multi-million shopping mall, arcades, modern restaurants, bars, cinemas, state of the art auditoriums and a six underground car parking.

This mega project will cost USD 100 million about Shillings 360b.  UNCC is expected to sign a contract with the developers by next week. Currently, UNCC generates Shillings 2 billion from the national theater in rent and projects to generates Shillings 50 billion annually once the project is complete.