Engineers call for demolition of Makerere’s Ivory Tower

A committee that was set up to study and assess the structural integrity of the burnt Makerere University main building has recommended that the entire building be demolished.

The iconic building, also known as the Ivory Tower, was gutted by a mysterious fire on September 19th sending a shock wave to the country, as history spanning close to eight decades reduced to ashes.

Days after the dark day, the University Council announced a restoration plan. However, there was a need to understand the integrity of the structure before a decision on the scope of the work could be taken.

Although he did not divulge details, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the University Vice-Chancellor says that the report highlighting the recommendation to demolish the building has been submitted to the University Council. The report was compiled by a joint team of engineers from the University’s engineering department and the Ministry of Works.

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Quoting the report, Prof Nawangwe, who is also a professional architect says the building was extensively damaged because the technology used during its construction lacked reinforcement to strengthen concrete, plaster, or mortar by embedding steel rods or wire mesh in it. He adds that due to excessive heat, all the walls cracked and the best option at hand is demolishing it.

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Prof. Nawangwe says they are going to rebuild the structure using modern technology but ensuring that it looks exactly as it was. He, however, adds that they want the rebuilding process to start as soon as January 2021.

The chief government valuer had valued the Ivory Tower at 15.4 billion Shillings. But in earlier interviews, Prof Nawangwe had indicated that restoration will certainly consume more money than that presented in the valuer’s report.

After putting off the fire in efforts that took almost four days, the building was left in its state and was sealed off allowing nobody to get near it as experts fear that anytime some parts which were heavily damaged might collapse.

After the inferno, police deployed a team of investigators and forensic analysts and promised to give out a report as soon as possible. However, to date, the public is still waiting for the promised police report on the incident.

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According to sources privy to the matter, a report was already developed and discussed by the fire and rescue services, forensic, and Criminal Investigators Directorate-CID at police headquarters but its content has remained scanty.

Source: URN

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