Members of Parliament on Wednesday tasked the Minister of State for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo to ensure that a clear audit is carried out in the fire which gutted Makerere’s University’s main Administration building, the Ivory Tower, over the weekend.
This was during a brief debate that followed a statement by the Minister about the fire. In the statement, Muyingo said that all documents in the University’s Directorates of Finance, Human Resource, including the Central Registry, and the Directorate of Internal Audit were destroyed.
“Fortunately, all the financial documents for previous financial years had been moved to the archives. Similarly, all old files in the Central Registry had been moved to the archives, while all the files of the current staff have been digitalized and are safely stored away,” Muyingo said in the statement.
He added that the financial documents for the Financial Year 2019/2020 are being audited and have been evacuated. The documents in the offices of the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and University Secretary were also evacuated.
Muyingo told Parliament that the University was now faced with the task of restoring the iconic building in time for the centenary celebrations due in 2022 and that the academic programmes at the University would resume on time as directed by the government and all arrangements to receive the students have been finalized.
However, Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga said that the absence of a water hydrant at Makerere University is the highest level of criminal negligence and that the inquest into the fire outbreak should extend to particular levels of negligence so that liability can be apportioned.
Mpuuga, who doubles as the Shadow Minister for Education also noted that the absence of a fire unit at East Africa’s number one University is the best description of absentee planning by the Institution’s highest organ the Council. He demanded an audit into the workings of the University Council as well as the fire that brought down the Ivory Tower.
Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa said that the fire exposed the country’s preparedness in response to fire outbreaks and other emergencies. He appealed to the government to learn from the experience and prepare accordingly for such emergencies.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga questioned the government’s plan for the reconstruction of the Ivory Tower as well as firefighting efforts in different parts of the area. In response, Muyingo said that the government was committed to having the Ivory Tower rebuilt and that the University Council was already having discussions in regard to this.