As told by Mr. Balitta Joab Retired Senior Foreman-Carpentry
Mr. Balitta joined University Service in 1955 as a fresh graduate of Carpentry and Joinery. He retired in 2004 after 49 years of dedicated service and now shares with us about the Department.
The Estates and Works Department started out as Kampala Technical School (KTS) established in 1928. Initially it wasn’t part of the Makerere College. It was run by the British Principals and Instructors and trained Surveyors, Architects, Bricklayers, Carpenters, Mechanics, Blacksmiths, Plumbers and Tailors. It served as a Technical School from 1928 to 1952 when it was moved to Kyambogo Institute.
Life was much simpler and learning materials were readily available. Sir Bernard de Bunsen was the Principal then and Mr Barro, Mr. Reall, Mr. Mahon Singh, as well as a Ugandan Mr. Kavuse were some of the Instructors at the Institute.
We had dormitories then that provided sufficient housing for the students. We were slightly over 200 men in the entire institute. At the time, there were only male students, even in the tailoring section.
During our free time, we often practiced our school work as there was not a lot to pursue on the entertainment front at the time. In 1955, Makerere College bought back Kampala Technical Institute and renamed it the Estates and Works Department. The College retained the Carpentry, Mechanical, Plumbing and Bricklaying functions of the Institute as a maintenance and service unit of the University.
After Makerere College Take over
Maintenance was the major works of the Estates Department as not so many buildings were built during that time. The Department helped to greatly slash the cost of obtaining furniture, as the University stopped sourcing externally but instead relied on the Estates Department to meet the demand. The Department also constructed some small roads.
During Amin’s era, a lot of work came to a standstill especially in places like the School of Engineering, College of Engineering, Art, Design and Technology-CEDAT (former Faculty of Technology) and the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity-CoVAB (former Faculty of Veterinary Medicine).
Some of the prominent leaders of the Department include the first Estates Officer Kalibbala Gulemye; an active and hardworking man.
Estates as a Monument
The Department was and still is important especially with handling emergencies like Power outages and Water leakages. As a result, the university provided accommodation for at least one of each kind of Estates and Works officer. The Department has also always played important roles at Graduation Ceremonies. The University Mace was made by the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts (MTSIFA) with the aid of the Estates and Works Department. The Department also helped make the Chancellor’s chair. At every award ceremony the Department erects the Graduation stands for students and staff, fabricates benches, and ensures that utilities like power are stable.
90 Years Significance
As caretakers of Makerere University’s Estate, the Estates and Works Department has been and continues to be a key player in maintenance of a tranquil environment conducive to Teaching, Learning and Research as We Build for the Future.
Copyrighted Images courtesy of Makerere University Library