Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe and Police are reading from different scripts in the incident where fire gutted the Makerere University main building destroying records and property worth millions of shillings.
In a statement on Monday morning, the Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga told journalists that the fire started at 12:55am from the public relations office and shot to the roof.
“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.
He however noted that by the time the fire started a police officer and a private security guard deployed to guard the building were not at their beat.
“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. We have in our custody one Police officer and a security guard who were supposed to be on duty that night. 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,” the police spokesperson told journalists.
However, in a statement released later, the university Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said a police patrol team at the university noticed smoke coming out of the roof of the main building and alerted the office in charge of Makerere Police station who at the time been deployed at Nateete Police Station for the night.
“The OC Makerere Police Station at the time was in the CCTV control room and he zoomed the CCTV cameras to the main building and indeed the cameras could show that there was smoke coming out of the building. The OC Station alerted the Makererere University Chief Security Officer who rushed to the main building immediately and arrived at the building about 12:47 am,” Nawangwe said.
The Makerere Vice Chancellor said smoke was seen coming out of the roof above the offices of the public relations department and soon the fire started coming out of the roof.
“He immediately alerted the control room to request the Fire Brigade to rush to the scene. The Chief Security Officer also alerted the Vice Chancellor and Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, who both rushed to the scene.”
Whereas Police said the fire started at 12:55am, the university Vice Chancellor said in his statement that the Makerere University Chief Security Officer arrived at the building which had gutted fire at 12:47am, eight minutes ahead of the time police say the fire started.
In his statement on Monday, Enanga said the officers deployed to guard the main building were not at the beat by the time the fire begun but according to Nawangwe, these were around.
“The main building is guarded by the university’s security services and the Uganda Police. At the time of the fire outbreak, the officers on duty were inside the building near the entrance and they apparently did not notice the problem until they were alerted by the Chief Security Officer,” Prof. Nawangwe said.
If the Prof. Nawangwe’s version is to go by, it leaves a lot to be desired in regards to the claims that the two guards were inside the building and never noticed the fire or smoke.
The police spokesperson on Monday said they are waiting for the building to cool down so that forensics and detective teams comb the scene for vital evidence about the fire.
“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,”Enanga said.