Members of Parliament have tasked the Government to improve the capacity to address disasters in the country, especially in light of the recent fire that gutted Makerere University’s 79-year-old iconic main administration building, also known as the Ivory Tower.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told the House during plenary on Wednesday, 23 September 2020, that protracted debates on poor availability of fire trucks had been held before, with a resolution to support all fire stations at districts with fire trucks.
“Imagine the scenario of the burning of the Makerere Tower, at an institution where great men like Julius Nyerere, Mwai Kibaki among others studied from. This was not good and we hope to keep getting updates on the situation,” said the Speaker.
In a statement to the House by State Minister for Higher education Hon. John Chrysostom Muyingo, the university was now faced with the task of restoring the iconic building in time for its centenary celebrations in 2022.
Hon. Mathias Mpuuga (DP, Masaka Municipality) described the lack of a fire hydrant and adequate firefighting unit at Makerere University, as the highest level of criminal negligence and absent planning.
“I would like to ask the Ministry of Education to audit the works of the University Council to see if they are doing their work. They need to make provisions for any disaster that could happen in the future,” Mpuuga said.
Kasilo County MP, Hon. Elijah Okupa said that the recent fire disaster at Makerere University showed how the country was ill-equipped in fighting fires, given that the fire brigade struggled to put out the flames expeditiously.
“This is an eye-opener to the Government of Uganda to equip the Uganda Police Fire Brigade. The Ministry of Internal Affairs should take this matter seriously,” said Okupa.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Hon. Betty Aol Ocan, who visited the university after the fire, recommended that all institutions ought to install fire detectors and alarms that can easily warn of the problem at hand, which in turn can be responded to quickly.
Hon. Geoffrey Macho (NRM, Busia Municipality) recommended that the government invests more resources in curbing disasters especially fires, which includes setting up water hydrants at institutions.
MPs commended Makerere University for digitalizing most of its records, which can be retrieved despite that hard copies of such documents were destroyed in the inferno.
Hon. Janepher Mbabazi (NRM, Kagadi) wondered if Parliament had the capacity to handle a fire outbreak within its precincts.