The tale of Makerere’s unfinished buildings

Written by: 
Davidson Ndyabahika

Makerere’s Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) building, popularly known as The Un Completed Block (UCB) would be housing Bank of Uganda now and that would undoubtedly make Makerere the most interesting institution in the country besides its being Africa’s 4th finest institution.
However, following then president Idi Amin Dada’s self imposed exile in 1979, the hope of completing its construction which had began in the early 70s waned despite its lease to the bank.
Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) was the name accorded to this building after its establishment and lease in 1970s by the government of Uganda-sitting president, Idi Amin Dada.
The building was meant to cater for students studies prior to its lease to UCB. After its lease, Makerere University tried to recover it but in vain for it required a lot of money to clear the lease which the University could not meet at the time.
The building now which is below the new University Main library extension north of Nkrumah hall is, what would today, be housing the Bank of Uganda. However, it is now being used to accommodate lectures on its ground floor.
It was not until the lease expired in the mid 2000s that the Mak administration gave it to the former Faculty of Economics and Management (FEMA), now College of Business and Management Sciences (COBAMS) to use as lecture rooms. This decision followed the ever-increasing numbers of students that Makerere has over time registered owing to its fame and excellence.
According to Harriet Nyakaana, COBAMS Communication Officer, with Makerere University’s adoption of the collegiate system in 2010, the block was not developed owing to scarcity of funds at the college since all money was taken to the central accounts of the University.
“The FEMA administration was not able to develop the slab because in 2007/08, all monies that had initially been remitted to units for Capital Development were to be retained at the center. Since then, the centre is fully in charge of capital developments at the University,” Nyakaana says.


New plans are under way to restore the bock. Currently, it is one of the sites ear marked for construction of multipurpose lecture rooms under the African Development Bank (ADB) Loan that is to be given to the government of Uganda for purposes of improving infrastructure in Public Universities in Uganda.
“A series of meetings are being held between representatives of ADB and Makerere University to review the conceptualization of what the Makerere University wants to have on the construction and thereafter ADB will come up with the drawings.” CoBAMS spokes person said with a glimmer.
According to Fred Nuwagaba, the Director, Estates and Works Department, Makerere University, the refurbishment of UCB block will commence early next year and is proposed to be a six-storey building, including the University’s biggest Hall estimated to sit over 1000 students and level three labs that will match the standards of an international University.
“We have already secured funds from African Development Bank through the government of Uganda for infrastructure development of public universities. We therefore would like to request our students to be part of the developments and embrace the new changes,” he said.