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Rakai school fire: police fire truck arrived 2hrs late

The burnt school dormitory

The burnt school dormitory

The police fire brigade arrived at St Bernard’s SS Manya in Kifamba sub-county, Rakai district at least two hours later after a fire outbreak that has so far claimed lives of 10 students. 

The Sunday night fire gutted the senior three boys' dormitory, leaving 10 dead and more than 30 other students with severe burn injuries. URN has learnt that the fire brigade truck which was parked at the Great Masaka policing regional office set off at around 12:15 am - an hour after the fire broke out at the school. The fire truck took one more hour to move the 69km distance from Masaka police station to Mannya, in Rakai district.

According to a report to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) and the Fire and Rescue Services Directorate, the first call to the police was made to the officer-in-charge Rakai police station, Aggrey Okumu by a Rakai-based journalist at around 11:07pm.

But the regional police commander, Latif Zaake said he received information about the fire a few minutes after midnight. URN has further learnt that while the police emergency communication procedures involve making a call to the operation communication office before personal calls are made, no call was made to the office located in Kampala.

The operation communication office is in charge of coordinating information between police commanders and all other available resources. By the time the fire brigade truck arrived at the scene, senior six students had managed to break the locks on the dormitory door and a rescue mission was underway that involved teachers, students and members of the community neighbouring the school. 

Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima confirmed the late arrival of the fire truck.

"Our fire trucks at the region in Masaka are 100km from the area [of the fire], so the firetrucks didn’t come on time because of the distance. But the area police quickly came, and the local community responded swiftly and did a pretty good job together with the teachers. Our specialised team of officers including the forensic and homicide experts as well as our intelligence services are on ground to fully investigate and bring to book those who committed this crime of arson and murder," said Kayima. 

The delay was compounded by the fact that while people gathered to help; more than 60 students had been locked inside the dormitory and could hardly come out. There was no fire extinguisher for them to put off the fire, and there was no other exit. Kayima reiterates that the burglar proofing of windows is a big threat to the safety of students.
"When you put burglar proofs, they are really for safety issues not security - safety, to stop a burglar from accessing. How about when a problem comes and you have to run away? So when you increase safety, you compromise on security." added Kayima. 

Preliminary police findings indicate that less than a week ago, there was a foiled fire attack on another boys' dormitory by one of the 11 expelled senior four students. It is on the basis of this foiled attempt to burn the dormitory which was allegedly covered up by the school, that teachers and students have since pointed at the expelled students as the prime suspects to the arson.

So far, three of the expelled students have been arrested as police searches for the remaining eight. Two teachers and the security guard have been also picked for questioning.


-1 #1 Wainanchi 2018-11-14 21:41
If this is true than it is disgrace and shame.

However,Uganda is not America and cannot afford fire trucks in every village.

Can in districts, but timing is of essence.

However, every public institution must have fire extinguishers, power ones, and people in charge of supervising them and checking regularly

Also,as one of commentators mentioned, there should be fire exits clearly displayed and especially in all schools fire and emergency drills with assembly points must be rehearsed at least quarterly to check alertness and preparedness.

This is a must in many schools and public places I have seen travelling the world before

We in Uganda must set up such contingencies and assign people to be in charge of security Armed guards is another alternative to make sure terrorists and arsonists do not encroach and set people on fire.Those caught must be hanged.
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+2 #2 Ugthinker 2018-11-15 02:46
Ugandans need not blame Museveni alone on this one.

Every time he brings sacks of money and you clap, it’s money meant for social services that you share!

If he brought sacks and placards demanding for ambulances, fire engines, functional hospitals/schools etc were raised, surely that would teach him to treat you differently.

He brings leftovers from the big loot and by and large part and parcel of the corruption.

Cash bonanzas aren’t good for no one, not even Museveni himself! What we need are social services delivery, but that can only be derived from sober leadership.
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+2 #3 WADADA rogers 2018-11-15 08:34
The fire trucks arrived two hours late, that was quick, usually, they take like five hours and when they arrive, they never have water to extinguish the fire, such is our banana Republic
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0 #4 Kelly 2018-11-15 10:29
"However, every public institution must have fire extinguishers, power ones, and people in charge of supervising them and checking regularly", Well said Wainanchi.

However that is a very passive statement because it does not actually indicate who must supervise, who should be punished if it is found out that schools were not supervised.

For your information, the responsibility of school inspection and supervision is directly under the docket of the Ministry of Education and Sports that is headed by none other than the former air hostess now wife of the president of the republic of Uganda.

If the appointing authority finds the political head incompetent, just fire her!!! Well, you know what I mean.
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+3 #5 Wainanchi 2018-11-15 14:42
@Kelly..We are talking about the entire Uganda.

Teagedy just happened in the docket of ministry of education but could happen anywhere ,not just in education sector Next day could be a hotel or hospital and please do not point fingers at people who are running portfolios.

Talkung about Education did you notice that just recently lots of rats have been caught in that ministry?

Strange you failed to comment in that but I applaud the First Lady who is doing amazing jobs wherever she goes.Kero your feelings for yourself please I was talking that similar tragedies could be avoided in the national level the way I described
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0 #6 Lakwena 2018-11-16 08:35
In other words e.g., prone to gridlock traffic jam from the Police Clock Tower Fire Station; because of many halls of residents and perennial students strikes, ordinarily Makerere University needs a Fire Station.
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0 #7 Ron 2018-11-16 13:39
Looking at the way that dormitory was constructed... no emergency exit.

whats all the metal baricades for as if its a prison. these should be some of the basics looked at by school inspecting and authorising bodies.... so sad
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