Fire has gutted the main administration building at Makerere University destroying invaluable records and property worth millions of shillings.
The fire that started at around midnight was able to spread to almost half of the building where several offices were affected.
“The Police Fire Brigade is trying to put out the fire which has now covered almost half of the roof. It’s a trying moment for us,” the university tweeted.
The affected building also houses the offices of the Vice Chancellor and student records whereas the basement is full of archive files spanning the whole history of the institution.
According to the university, efforts to save the left wing of the building which houses the Human Resources and staff records of the university were being defeated by the highly powerful flames whose blaze was increased by the wooden furnishings.
This fire comes at a time when the university, like most education institutions, has been in lockdown mode since March 30, 2020. The lockdown was ordered by President Yoweri Museveni to help curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic in Uganda.
The country also observes a curfew that begins at 9pm to 6am.
President Museveni is expected to address the nation tonight on progress in the fight against COVID-19 and whether more sectors of the economy like education can resume normal operations.
About the main building
According to Makerere University, the Main Administration Building was completed in 1941 under the leadership of George C. Turner, the Principal, Makerere College (1939-46).
Earlier in 1938, the Duke of Gloucester, representing His Majesty King George VI had cut the first sod for the construction of the building on 3rd November.
The Main Building with its unique 20th century British architecture is easily Makerere’s most recognisable symbol and was constructed with funds from the Colonial Development hourse.
The building’s construction was greatly delayed by a scarcity of resources to purchase materials as Britain and her allies grappled with the expenses of World War II.
As a result, some of the carpentry work had to be done on-site at the Technical College.
The Principal then focused on turning Makerere into a University College and establishing buildings. As a result both the St. Francis and St. Augustine Chapels were completed in the same year 1941 and by 1944, plans for the establishment of a School of Civil Engineering at Makerere were already being discussed by the British House of Commons
The fire brigade is on ground. Everyone is trying their best. The fire is heavy and sprouting from the right side of the Building. The fire flames are heavy coming through right side of the roof which has sunk in. We all need to pray for the Ivory Tower. pic.twitter.com/BTlL7CrvDS
— Makerere University (@Makerere) September 19, 2020