Plans are in high gear to open a National Railway Museum in Uganda in order to preserve the rich historical heritage of the vast railway network and its impact in terms of colonialism and development, social-economic and racial relations in the country, and neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania.
The proposed National Railway Museum will be located at Jinja Railway Station in Jinja City. This is so because Jinja has one of the most iconic structures on the railway system; The Jinja Railway Bridge which was built in the late 1920 and completed in 1931. It is the first steel bridge that was built across the Nile from Mombasa to Kasese.
The project is to be financed by the European Union (EU) 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.
A visitor will be able to trace the history of our railways through photographs, diagrammes and unique artefacts; watch a film where those most concerned recollect the days of the railways; visit a locomotive and railway carriage; learn so much more from 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,” the CCFU programme advisor, John De Coninck, told Sunday Monitor.
“Different artefacts have been collected from along the lines and stations. These include lamps, telephony instruments, railway tools, a ticketing cupboard, among others,” De Coninck added.
“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,” De Coninck said.
The museum that has blessings from the Department of Museums and Monuments is expected to be opened to the public by the end of this year.
CCFU held an exhibition under the theme “Our railways – our history” at the Uganda National Museum in Kampala from December 9th to 17th, 2020.
As to the importance of having this museum, De Coninck, said: “Railways have shaped the history of the country, right from the beginning of the colonial period until the 1970s.”
As for the roles this museum will play in the tourism industry in Uganda, De Coninck, said: “We need to diversify the tourism products on offer in the country. This is one way to do it.”
CCFU is appealing to the public to donate or lend artefacts or old photos to the museum.