I visited the recently destroyed main administration building at Makerere University. It was heartbreaking to see a place of such historical importance in ashes. A few things came to mind.
- The slow and ill-equipped response of the fire brigade was unacceptable. Government invested in arming itself to the tooth when it comes to quelling legitimate opposition gatherings, but has never prioritised equipment to protect citizens and the economy from fires like these.
This reveals an unfortunate reality: the regime is focused on its survival not the welfare of the state. This is not a political argument or attempt to score points. It is a fact. And unless Ugandans send a clear message that it is unacceptable, we will have more of the same.
- The nature of the fire warranties a swift, thorough and transparent investigation.
One would hope that the government would invest in being seen as taking swift, decisive action. On the evidence of similar incidents in the past however, there’s very little basis for such hope.
- The university administration will need to quickly review the health and safety measures put in place across the entire campus.
One shudders to think what would have happened of this was a hall of residence or other such public place.
The Alliance will continue to focus its efforts on impressing upon Ugandans the need for us to organise and strategise at the grassroots level.
We cannot wait for the goodwill of those in power to start building the Uganda we want.