By Felix Oketcho
Plans are in high gear to open Uganda’s first National Railway Museum headquartered in Jinja City by December 2021, TheSpy Uganda has learnt.
According to officials from the Cross-Cultural Foundation Uganda (CCFU) who are overseeing the establishment, the new museum will preserve the rich historical heritage of the vast railway network and its impact on the social-economic development of Uganda.
“We are planning on early January but in case the works end in November, we could do the official launch by December,” CCFU Executive Director Barbara Babweteera said in an exclusive interview with TheSpy Uganda.
CCFU is a Non Governmental Organisation established in 2005 on the premise that culture is not sufficiently taken into account in development. CCFU exists to promote the recognition of culture as vital to the country’s human and social-economic development of the country.
Financed by the European Union and SOGEA (the company rehabilitating the Tororo – Pakwach railway line), and co-managed by the Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) and the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU), the museum will provide visitors with a unique experience in one of the oldest railway stations in the country.
Babweteera said a visitor will be able to trace the history of our railways through photographs, diagrams and unique artefacts; watch a film where those most concerned recollect the days of the railways, visit a locomotive and railway carriage, appreciate the explanations of a trained guide and enjoy all amenities, including a shop and cafeteria.
“It will be a new museum, using interactive methods. It is meant, especially to attract children who might have never had a chance to see a train, let alone be a rail passenger,” she explained.
John Dr Conick CCFU programme Director explained that different artefacts have been collected from along the lines and stations namely lamps, telephony instruments, railway tools, a ticketing cupboard, among others.
“The museum will occupy about two or three-thirds of the Jinja Railway Station, plus the forecourt where an exhibition coach and locomotive will be accessible to visitors,” she added.
De Coninck noted that railways have shaped the history of the country, right from the beginning of the colonial period until the 1970s hence a great tourism facility government should guard seriously.
“Railway museum will diversify the tourism products on offer in the country. As CCFU we appeal to the public to donate or lend artefacts or old photos to the museum,” Conick stressed.
Built by the British government, and named for its ultimate destination, Uganda Railway’s construction began in 1896 from the port City of Mombasa to Uganda.