Police in Mukono are investigating a fire outbreak that killed 11 people at Salama School for the Blind in Luga Village, Ntanzi Parish, Mukono District, in the wee hours of Tuesday.
According to a statement released by ASP Luke Owoyesigyire, the Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesperson, the cause of the fire is yet to be established.
Six other people said to be in critical condition were rushed to Herona Hospital in Kisoga Town, Mukono District and later transferred to Mulago National Referral Hospital, according to the District Health Officer, Dr Henry Mulindwa.
The deceased, all visually impaired children, have been identified as Shamira Kalema, Patricia Mudondo, Gladys Namuga, Rebecca Josephine Namulondo, Josephine Joseline Namuwonge, Peace Nalumisa, Agnes Nantume, Pretty Prwoth, Veronica Nasali, Ket Nangutu and Patricia Nakaiyima.
The school proprietor, Mr Francis Kinubi, believes it was an arson attack.
“I think a heartless person set fire on the dormitory with an intension of blocking the princess’ visit because there is no electricity at the side where the fire started,” he said.
Mukono LCV chairperson, Rev Peter Bakaluba Mukasa, said the school has been involved in land conflicts as he received complaints in his office.
Major General James Birungi the commander of Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) said they are going to investigate the matter.
School fires have become a common occurrence countrywide, however, a lasting solution seems to have eluded the authorities and concerned stakeholders.
The Ministry of Education in March, attributed the fire outbreaks in schools to a lack of occupational permits, especially among private schools, across the country.
The ministry said schools can acquire the permits from the local government, adding that the institutions will be forced to publicly display their occupational permits to parents and visitors.
In 2008, the ministry in conjunction with the police issued a circular with a list of guidelines on how schools could address school fires and ensure the safety and security of learners. The guidelines included having emergency exits, security committees, firefighting equipment, and sickbays.
However, this seems to not have helped as many fire incidents have happened in various schools since then, claiming dozens of lives.
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Story by Jessica Sabano