Makerere Hill, off Bativa road, Kampala | +256 (0) 393 294 675/7
Makerere Hill, off Bativa road, Kampala | +256 (0) 393 294 675/7

Uganda’s railways played a fundamental role in the economic, colonial and post-colonial development of the country in terms of bringing communities together, allowing access to education and other facilities, and cementing national consciousness. The introduction of the railways in Uganda followed the August 1895 Bill in the British Parliament, authorising the construction of a railway from Mombasa to the shores of Lake Victoria. This marked the beginning of the Uganda Railway, which eventually expanded all the way to Pakwach in the north and Kasese in the west.

For many years, however, Uganda’s railways have been unused or underused, with historical artefacts (such as equipment, engines and carriages) and buildings (such as stations and workers’ cottages) falling into disrepair.

The enormous contribution of railways to Uganda’s history cannot go uncelebrated and memories kept alive and this is why the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation that promotes and appreciation of culture as vital for human development that responds to our diverse identities, with support from the European Union and SOGEA SATOM and the Uganda Railways Corporation established the Uganda Railway Museum.  

L-R: Ms. Caroline Adriaensen, the Head of Cooperation at the European Union in Uganda and the His Worship the Lord Mayor of Jinja City, Kasolo Okocha officially open the museum and pause for a photo with the Chairman of Uganda Tourism Board and the Jinja City Town Clerk

Mr. Hannington Karuhanga, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Uganda Railways Corporation while speaking at the grand opening of the museum thanked “CCFU for championing the initiation and running of the Uganda Railway Museum. He encouraged the young people to pick a leaf from the stories of the Uganda Railways; including the tragedies that happened in the story of the railways.”

The museum highlights the important role that railways played in Uganda’s history and nation building.

Located along the Jinja-Iganga Highway at the Railway Station in Jinja City, the museum diversifies the range of tourist attractions in Uganda, both for local and foreign visitors. Part of the museum has been designed with young people in mind to support their learning and appreciation of Uganda’s history.

The Uganda Railway Museum offers a varied programme that includes heritage theme nights, exploring a locomotive and coach, film recollections/stories, guided tours and access to a cafeteria.

From top to bottom: members of the Uganda the Uganda Tourism Board and attendees of the grand opening ceremony tour the museum

The Museum is now open for public visits every Tuesdays to Sundays, 11:00am – 6:00pm at 5000 Ugandan shillings for adults and 2000 shillings for children.

Nile Beats Artists ready to entertain visitors at the museum

While there are ongoing government efforts to revamp the railway transport with the rehabilitation of the northern line and the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway. The establishment of the railway museum complements the government of Uganda’s efforts to highlight the importance of railway transport by reinvigorating its interest among Ugandans.

Speaking on behalf of H.E. Attilio Pacifici at the grand opening of the museum in March 2022, the Head of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Uganda, Ms. Caroline Adriaensen, the Head of Cooperation, noted that the museum presents a great opportunity to recognise and appreciate the history of the railways in Uganda, their role in the lives of Ugandans who lived and worked along them, and their place in the country’s political and economic development. The European Union is delighted to support the revival of this crucial infrastructure and an important piece of our collective memory in Uganda.

His Lordship. Okocha Kasolo, Mayor, Jinja City in his remarks at the opening of the museum thanked the government of Uganda for the current efforts to revive the railways, noting that if the railways are revived fully, there will be little pressure on the roads and therefore their lifespan will increase. He thanked CCFU for initiating the idea of establishing railway museum and noted that an initiative like this will positively impact the finances of Jinja city as well as for the dwellers in the city.

The establishment of the Uganda Railways Museum is premised on CCFU’s previous works on the history of the railway in Uganda. A book titled “Our Railways, Our History” was produced last year to recognise and celebrate the story of our railway lines; explore their role in the lives of Ugandans who lived and worked along them, and their place in the country’s economic and political development. The book is available at 90,000shs at selected bookshops and CCFU offices.

CCFU’s Executive Director, Ms. Barbra Babweteera Mutambi, notes that the establishment of the Museum demonstrates the Foundation’s commitment to safeguarding historical buildings, sites and monuments:

“We have always advocated for the safeguarding of historic buildings, sites and monuments but the establishment of the Museum gives us a chance to demonstrate to the general public how to preserve a historic building sustainably,” Ms. Babweteera said.

CCFU’s other interventions to safeguard built heritage

In Uganda and elsewhere in the world, buildings, sites and monuments of historical and cultural significance provide character and identity to cities, towns and villages: their location and architectural design reflect the way of life associated with traditional governance, colonial administration, religious affiliation and peaceful co-existence, commerce and trade, as well as relationships between Uganda and other nations. These sites and buildings indeed reassure people about the existence of life before the present day, while reflecting ambitions that may or may not be realised.

In this era of globalisation, with fast changing identities and aspirations, the importance of conservation for the benefit of future generations cannot be overlooked. Historical buildings and sites are irreplaceable, and this is why CCFU, with the generous support of the European Union documented historical buildings, sites and monuments in 4 cities (Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe and Fort Portal). Outputs such as maps, a book, and a mobile application were produced, displaying the hidden treasures of these cities. CCFU is now, embarking on a crowd funding campaign to document historic properties in Mbale city.

For further information about the Uganda Railway Museum, please contact us at ccfu@crossculturalfoundation.or.ug; Tel 0393294675 or visit www.crossculturalfoundation.or.ug

Uganda Railway Museum

The Uganda Railway Museum is a national railway museum located along the Jinja-Iganga Highway at the Railway Station in Jinja City. Housed in one of Jinja’s oldest and historical buildings constructed in 1928, the museum contains artefacts from the days before the railway in Uganda, the life during the early days of railway development, the era of colonial expansion, and the railways after independence. Part of the museum is designed with young people in mind to support their learning and appreciation of Uganda’s history.

The Uganda Railway Museum offers a varied programme, including:

  • Guided tours of the museum and locomotive
  • A train experience in a restored but stationed locomotive and coach.
  • In the cinema section of the coach, visitors can watch a short film on the history of the railway in Uganda.
  • Heritage theme nights such as the movie night every Friday
  • A cafeteria whose menu is themed on the railway concept
  • The Akatale – a monthly market day that provides space to the local crafts community.

Proverb of the month

“Akarabakatahyo kaimuka n’omukono gwoko.”
“To lift a gourd, you need its handle.”
Bunyoro – Western Uganda
November 2023

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