Crisis in Kasese: Schools and Police Battle Over Emergency Protocols

The recent outbreaks of fire at two schools in the Kasese District have unveiled profound deficiencies in the emergency response system and the adherence to safety protocols by the educational institutions involved.

On an unusual day, February 29, a devastating fire swept through a boys’ dormitory at Margherita Demonstration Primary School, leading to the complete loss of the students’ personal effects. Shortly thereafter, a second blaze, believed to have been caused by an electrical short-circuit, caused extensive damage to Bukangara Childcare Nursery and Primary School. These incidents have highlighted a disturbing pattern of inadequate and delayed response from the police when their intervention was most needed.

Mr. Alfred Kule, the director of Bukangara Childcare, described the scene when the police arrived without the necessary firefighting equipment. He also noted the late arrival of the police fire tanker, which came after the school staff and locals had already attempted to extinguish the fire using soil.

Mr. Nixon Marahi, the head teacher at Margherita Demonstration Primary, detailed the extensive damage caused by the fire, including the destruction of essential student items and parts of the school’s infrastructure. He suggested that the damage could have been minimized with a more prompt response from the police.

Following the incidents, a school director expressed concerns about the police’s response time and the government’s commitment to fire safety during a meeting with parents.

In response, SP Nelson Tumushime, the regional police spokesperson, disputed any suggestions of police inadequacy, implying that the schools were attempting to shift the blame. He acknowledged the limited resources, noting that the region has only two firefighting units for four police divisions.

SP Tumushime also criticized the schools for not adhering to the Ministry of Education and Sports’ safety guidelines, which include having proper fire safety measures in place. Mr. Emmy Kayiiri, the municipal education officer, supported this criticism and indicated that measures would be taken against schools that fail to comply with safety standards.

This situation underscores the urgent need for enhanced emergency response measures and for educational institutions to prioritize the safety and security of their students, ensuring that they are prepared for any emergencies that may arise. It also calls for a collaborative effort between government agencies and schools to ensure that safety protocols are not only in place but are also effectively implemented and regularly reviewed for efficacy.

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