A police officer and a private security guard who had been deployed to guard the Makerere University main building were “suspiciously” absent by the time the fire broke out, the Nile Post has learnt.
According to a source privy to the investigations but is not authorized to speak to the press by the time the Sunday morning fire broke out, the two were not at their usual beat and this has raised questions.
“If it was not for the CCTV monitoring centre at Nateete, police would not have known about the fire because the two officers who were supposed to report the fire were not around, “the source told the Nile Post.
“They two have since been arrested to help in investigations into the matter.’
The police spokesperson Fred Enanga confirmed the arrest of two people to help in investigations.
“By time of response, fire had spread to the roof which means the security detail at Makerere was probably absent or could have absconded from duty for them to fail to realise smoke coming out from the building,”Enanga told journalists on Monday .
“We have in our custody one Police officer and a security guard who were supposed to be on duty that night.”
The Police spokesperson explained that on interrogation, the police officer told detectives that he was at his designated beat despite investigations showing otherwise.
“The private security guard was asleep the whole night. When our officers (who arrived later) tried to knock and open his door, he was asleep and took him hours to wake up.”
Addressing the nation on Sunday , President Museveni alluded to the fact that there was negligence at the university leading to the fire.
“We don’t know how it started but we already have some cases of negligence but I am sure the Vice Chancellor will be doing something about his staff,” Museveni said.
Inside the fire
The fire that started at around 12am, gutted the 98 year- old main administration building at Makerere University destroying records and property worth millions of shillings.
Speaking to journalists on Sunday, Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports said the fire started from the office of the public relations department, went down to the university secretary’s office, spread to the southern wing which houses the records.
Another source at the university that this website spoke insisted that the fire was not started by an electric circuit.
However, addressing journalists on Monday, the police spokesperson, Fred Enanga in one way or the other lent credence to the reasoning that the fire was not caused by an electric circuit.
He said the fire started from the public relations office before shooting to the roof of the building.
“The fire started at 12:55am from the office of the PRO and spread to the finance office. The fire tore through the timber frames, the wooden floor and wooden partitions which caused it to shoot into the roof of the building causing the ceiling to curve in,”Enanga said.
“We are now waiting for the fires to effectively cool down so that KCCA physical planning department engineers carry out risk assessment before team of experts from the Police forensics services, Government Analytical Laboratory, fire and rescue service and detectives from Kampala Metropolitan kick off the investigations.”
If the police spokesperson’s explanation is to go by, then there is no way the fire could have been caused by an electric circuit since it started from the ground before shooting up to the roof where the electric wire could be.
However, another school of thought supporting the explanation of electric circuit could say wires in the walls could have got a problem but according to Enanga, investigations will find out.
“We expect the regional Umeme teams from Kawempe to support investigations. We have retrieved cctv footage from the library wing which we will analyse to help tell us if any person could have accessed the main building before the fire.”
For a number of commentators, especially on social media, Police Fire and Rescue Services department was blamed for failure to effectively put out the fire that nine hours later, they were still grappling with it.
The Police spokesperson however said they deployed 11 trucks and a tram of over 40 men was at the scene to put out the fire.
“The team had a challenge of lack of a water hydrant at university and had to drive to back fire brigade headquarters near clock tower to fill the trucks and come back yet the fire was significant at that time,”Enanga said.
This means, the firefighting trucks, some of whom are as old as 20 years had to move for a distance of almost three kilometres to fetch water from Clock Tower for a number of times before returning to Makerere.