Close Schools that Don’t Meet Fire Safety Standards, Ecweru Directs Inspectors of Schools

State Minister for Works Musa Ecweru with District Education Officers, Inspectors of Schools and Building Control Officers after a training in Jinja City

The Minister of State for Works, Musa Ecweru has called upon the District Education Officers (DEOs) and Inspectors of Schools (ISs) to desist from blaming politicians for their failure to close schools that do not meet the fire safety standards issued by the Ministry of Education. The Minister says it’s the lamentations for those responsible that has resulted into several fire accidents in schools that have led to loss of lives and destruction of property. Ecweru made the call during a 3 days training of DEOs, ISs and Building Control Officers (BCOs) on building control matters and fire safety in schools.

“If you inspect and make recommendations for the closure of a school that does not meet the fire safety standards and your decision is vetoed by the political class, please request them to put their actions in writing”. Ecweru advised. “Your decisions should be copied to other relevant authorities including the ministry of Education for back up in the event their decisions are interfered with”. He added

Ecweru’s remarks were prompted by concerns raised by several ISs of how there are stopped by politicians and school administrators from inspecting some schools and issuing closure notices where they that fail to meet the fire safety standards after inspection.

The ISs were however faulted for sometimes issuing good inspection reports to schools that do not meet the standards.

The Commissioner for Pre- Primary and Primary Standards, Doreen Ankunda Tumwebaze who represented the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education asked the Inspectors to avoid stopping in offices while on inspection but extend to the dormitories to know the exact situation in schools.

“We are always asked in meeting by the president and Minister (Janet Museveni) whenever these fires happen and we feel shy to say you exist. Please do your work”. Tumwebaze emphasized.

The Minister directed National Building Review Board (NBRB) to cascade the training at the regional level and further engage other stakeholders such as the Uganda Police, Headteachers, Uganda Recross and Uganda Bureau of Standards (UNBS).

Earlier, the team assessed the fire safety standards in selected schools in Jinja City including Jinja SS, Jinja College, PMM Girls School and St James SS.

The team observed serious fire safety challenges including congestion in dormitories, lack of firefighting equipment like fire extinguishers and water hydrants, poor accessibility for fire tenders for emergency rescue among others.

“There are no ramps for the dormitories, there is congestion, the electricity wires are exposed the roof is leaking which can result into water dripping onto the electric wires”. Ojok George the District Education Officer of Nebbi District, observed at Jinja SS.

We have observed that in case of any disasters, there is congestion in the dormitories, the windows have burglar proof, there is no lightning arrestors among others Sarah Adong, the District Education Officer, Kumi District highlighted.

The meeting comes just weeks after a fire that gutted a boy’s dormitory at Victory Nursery and Primary School in Busia Municipality which claimed four lives.