Controversy Surrounds Origin Of Makerere Fire

The origin of the fire that has razed down Makerere University’s main building remains unknown as different versions of where the fire begun emerge.

The Sunday morning fire that gutted three quarters of the main building is suspected to have begun from the public relations office according to the official reports following a closed door meeting.

While addressing journalists, the education ministry permanent secretary Alex Kakooza revealed that preliminary findings point to the fire having been started in the ceiling of the public relations office that was located in the right wing on the top most floor.

However, some resident staff at the university who were among the first people to arrive at the scene of the fire say that the fire begun in the finance department located on the first floor in the right wing.

Dennis Abed, one of the security guards at the university says he was off duty and received a call form colleagues telling him that the building was on fire. He says on rushing there, fire could be seen in the floor where some of the finance offices were located.

However, other residents claim the fire started from the central registry offices located on the top most floor of the left wing. Wilson Amooti Kisembo, a resident within the university says the fire spread from the central registry before it spread to the human resource department.

When the preliminary report from the university was communicated, this caused surprise to many staff members who spent the better part of the morning at the site of the fire.

One of the staff who preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter said that the diverging views on the origin of the fire are suspicious and a sign that things are getting political.

“We have been here since morning and we saw it and know the fire begun in the Finance department. Even the university vice chancellor while speaking to journalists said the fire begun from down and made its way to the ceiling hence circulating to the entire building. Now it seems what we know is changing,” the source said.

CID boss Grace Akullo who arrived at the scene of the fire after 11:00 am said that they have begun investigations into what might have begun the fire and where it might have originated. Cameras located on the ground floor of the building that might have shed more light on the investigations were destroyed in the fire.

As of 1:00 pm, only three floors of the iconic building were remaining. The office of the vice chancellor, the senior common and the council room located on the first two floors of the building were untouched. The University printery located in the basement of the building was also intact.

With the smell of smoke lingering in the air, everything in the right wing was destroyed by the fire. Documents, furniture and computers located in the Finance Department, University secretary’s office, deputy vice chancellor administration and finance, central registry, audit offices, pension offices, salary offices and human resource offices were all destroyed.

Re-echoing his determination to restore the building back to its former glory, Prof. Nawangwe said they are going to engage engineers from the ministry of works to carry out a structural damage assessment which will guide their decision to either completely demolish the building or to add onto the remaining structure.

According to Prof. Nawangwe, the original blue prints of the building are still intact at the Estates Department and they will be consulted during any construction works.




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