Following the completion of the relocation and reconstruction of the iconic Clock Tower at Queen’s Way, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is actively exploring options to ensure the clock is operational.
Restoration and Reconstruction
The original monumental tower, standing tall for around 66 years, was dismantled amidst protests from city residents and heritage advocates to make way for the development of the Kampala Flyover Road Project. Despite the controversy surrounding its removal, UNRA assured the public of its restoration at a location just meters away. The road authority recently announced the near completion of the redevelopment of Queen’s Way, with the tower restored.
Allan Ssempebwa, the Communication Manager at UNRA, revealed that the project is currently at a 97 percent completion rate. The authority is actively collaborating with other departments to ensure the successful inclusion of a functional clock in the tower. He clarified that when the project commenced, there was no clock in the tower, but various items were preserved and will be seamlessly integrated after relocation and reconstruction.
Incorporation of Salvaged Parts
Portions of the original Clock Tower, salvaged during the dismantling, have been incorporated into the new structure. Notably, metallic elements, including the upper metallic section, are already visible on the new tower, currently painted in white (although not the original color). A slight design change is observed with eight holes beneath the space reserved for the clock on the new tower, a feature absent in the original structure.
The Mystery of the Missing Clock
However, questions arise about the whereabouts of the famous Queen’s Clock, also known as “Saawa ya Queen,” and the significance of the reconstructed tower without a working clock. In 2022, sources at KCCA confirmed that the clock was untraceable 11 years after its removal for maintenance. Interviews revealed that the clock disappeared in 2011 when KCCA initiated a city beautification project. Placed on the tower during the 1950s to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the clock has been a historical monument and tourist attraction for years.
Search for the Missing Clock
Efforts to locate the clock have been ongoing, with the Ministry of Tourism and KCCA sharing the responsibility of ensuring its safety. However, officials from both entities have been unable to provide clarity on its whereabouts. A reliable anonymous source suggests a likelihood that the clock has left the country, possibly taken by illicit collectors. The source emphasizes the disappearance for over 12 years, hinting at illegal trafficking of antiquities.
Legal Safeguards and Recent Legislation
Uganda enacted the Museum and Monuments Act of 2023, aiming to foster the development, management, and maintenance of museums and monuments. The legislation formalizes, regulates, and safeguards tangible and intangible heritage, including collections of art. Engaging in or assisting in the trade, storage, or transportation of illicit antiquities and protected objects is illegal under this act. Convictions carry severe penalties, including a seven-year prison term or a fine of 20 million, or both.