Makerere University fire report rules out arson, points to electricity fault

Makerere University main building fire
The Makerere University main building – Ivory Tower destroyed by fire

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The investigations into the fire that gutted Makerere University iconic main building–Ivory Tower has ruled out a possibility of arson.

The Ivory Tower caught fire in the wee hours of September 20, 2020, destroying the historical building valued at 15 billion Shillings and several vital records and documents spanning decades that were kept in different offices hosted at the building.

However since the tragic day, there were several versions of the likely cause and source of the fire that destroyed the building which was mostly made of wood pillars and partitions. Allegations were pegging the fire on the different administrative woe fights within Makerere University citing a human activity in the case.

But a report from investigations that were carried out by the Criminal Investigations Directorate and the Ministry of Works pointed to electricity as the likely cause of the fire that reduced to ashes the 70-year-old building which stood tall as the face of higher learning in the region.

The CID spokesperson Charles Twiine confirms the development but adds that the detailed report will be officially released to the general public by the Ministry of Works.

Susan Kataike, the Senior Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Works and Transport said that the Minister will schedule a time to disseminate the findings to the public.

In a recent communication to staff, the Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe also highlighted snapshots of the report and shared several recommendations provided.

VIDEO: Records destroyed as fire ravages Uganda’s Makerere University main building

The recommendations according to Nawangwe include, an overhaul of the electrical systems in the Makerere University buildings, provision of a fire hydrant on campus, recruitment of electrical experts, and a total reconstruction of the building among others.

More clues on the report can be traced in the January 25 cabinet memo which indicated that the cabinet had discussed and taken note about the recommendations on the investigations into the fire.

Previous minor fire outbreaks on the same building were also blamed to electricity-related problems. For instance in 2018, a fire broke out in the central registry although it was put out before it caused any damage. The cause was later attached to old electrical wiring that was eaten by a rat thus causing a short circuit.