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Sh9.27B Uhuru Gardens projected to make annual losses of Sh250 million

Why Uhuru Gardens stares at Sh250M annual losses despite a projected revenue of Sh400 million per year

President William Ruto tours Uhuru Gardens in October

The National Assembly Departmental Committee on Defence, Intelligence, and Foreign Relations has released a report following an inspection visit to the Uhuru Gardens National Monument and Museum (UGNM&M) project, led by the Ministry of Defence within Nairobi County.

The visit aimed to evaluate the project's advancements, identify challenges, and assess the overall utility of this historical endeavour.

Uhuru Gardens holds significant historical importance, having been declared a National Monument in 1966.

Once a site of one of the largest concentration camps in colonial Africa, the Gardens witnessed the incarceration of up to 10,000 freedom fighters, infamous for its torture cells where many Africans suffered and lost their lives.

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The monumental project, situated on a 68-acre parcel of land off Langata Road, is expected to become one of the largest museums in Sub-Saharan Africa.

During the inspection, the committee noted that the project, with an estimated cost of Sh9.27 billion, has made substantial progress, with Sh8 billion already expended.

The outstanding amount stands at Sh1.27 billion.

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The facility projects to raise annual revenue from gate fees, lettable spaces, and various services, with anticipated annual income of Sh400 million.

Out of the Sh400 million, Uhuru Gardens hopes to raise Sh300 million from an annual visitor count of 1.5 million, with each paying a Sh200 entrance fee.

The other Sh100 million is expected to come from lettable space for business, events and exhibitions.

However, the Uhuru Gardens estimates to spend at least Sh650 million in annual maintenance, leaving a deficit of Sh250 million.

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Sh300 million will be personnel emoluments for staff while Sh350 million will be Operation and Maintenance (O&M) expenses.

MPs raised concerns that the extra Sh250 million might have to be footed by taxpayers, and tasked the management to find other ways of raising the money.

"Therefore, based on the above, the facility has the potential to rake in Sh400 million annually (estimated revenue collection) against estimated expenses of Sh650 million. This implies that the facility will have a deficit of Sh250 million which must be sourced from somewhere i.e. exchequer from the National Treasury," the report said.

To address this, the committee recommended the introduction of a civilian component in the management of Uhuru Gardens to prevent militarization, while ensuring the military control the facility’s security.

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The committee further made key recommendations:

  • Collections at Uhuru Gardens should be retained and utilized at the source as Appropriation-in-Aid (AIA), with detailed budget submissions on projected revenues and expenses.
  • Establishment of an Endowment Fund from generated revenues to support the maintenance of key areas for viability and sustainability.
  • Submission of quarterly reports by the Ministry of Defence detailing Uhuru Garden’s performance to track facility performance.
  • Collaboration between the Ministry of Defence, Uhuru Gardens management, and the National Museums of Kenya to develop strategies for promotion, visitor management, and cost-cutting measures for self-sustainability.
  • The Ministry of Defence to spearhead implementation, reporting progress to the National Assembly within 90 days.

These recommendations aim to ensure the Uhuru Gardens’ project's success, financial viability, and sustained historical significance.

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