Anyone with the same experiences? When I was there in 2016 I paid 10,000 ugx and all was quite organized.
We visited way back in 1995 before the fire etc so I am not offering any "recent experience" but the current state of the Tombs does seem to provide an interesting example of the reality of WHS conservation in countries struggling with major economic, social and political problems.
First - it appears that the site isn't even officially open - here are recent reviews
on Trip Advisor together with a photo stating the closed status
On 30 Jan 2019 UNESCO published its latest report
on the "State of Conservation" of the tombs -this in response to a requirement in the WHC of last year - "Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
The report contains some rather nice descriptions of the layout of the site and the historical/religious etc background both for reference and for anyone intending to visit. Reading it one can certainly see why the site is on the "Danger List" (since 2001)! All the pages of management speak and the beautifully produced plans stretching through to 2028 can't disguise the physical and social issues bedevilling the site.
Regarding the "negotiable" entrance fees experienced both by Els's correspondent and the Trip Advisor visitors I particuarly noted the comments in the report about the status of the traditionally appointed "Custodians" of the Tombs. (The Site is owned by the "Kingdom of Buganda Administration" rather than by the State of Uganda) See section 4.3 of the main report
"4.3 Custodians Needs
Their needs are mostly linked to their welfare. Other aspects are harmonizing their functions and roles and providing market access for their crafts. The challenge of sustaining the custodians' welfare in terms of housing, food and provision of social utilities (water, electricity, sanitation needs) is important in this phase of planning. Addressing their needs is considered to be part of the overall protection of OUV attributes. They form core living human treasures of Kasubi Tombs. Their welfare is rated poor impeding on their functional performance.
It would appear that these "custodians" have been put in the position where they have to do whatever is necessary to make a living. Who knows even if the people one meets are actually true "custodians" - maybe they have "outsourced" this task to others who are better at "hustling" than they are!!
Another little snippet I noticed was this about the state of the Bujjabukala Gatehouse (the oldest, most "authentic" part of the tombs)
"Structural effect of the mostly damaged area of the building caused by the truck knock impact while turning.........This fatal impact on the building made some rafters in the highlighted area deviate and others got broken
Accidents happen I suppose - and even France can't preserve its most iconic site - but one does despair!
Yes - despite all the efforts and the money/support from Japan, the Site certainly has its problems. With this year's WHC coming up it seems appropriate to consider whether UNESCO spends its time and money wisely given the effort which will be spent evaluating and discussing yet more "clone" nominations from developed countries.