The fatalities from the wildfire in California stand at 77 and 3 for North and South respectively. According to reports from America’s CBS news reports, the fire has also burned down 246,949 acres of land and destroyed 14246 buildings. The full containment of this fire is expected on November 30th and 22nd for respective North and South.
US president Donald J Trump didn’t hide his furiousness as evidenced in his tweet where he blamed poor forest management for massive, deadly and costly forest fires.
When you think of management, one can’t discuss this accident without imagining the amount of damage and fatalities such would have caused if it had occurred in struggling indebted, low developed and mismanaged countries.
Back home, the mood is ill-lit and cheerless as the country mourns the sudden death of over 10 students who perished in a midnight fire that broke out in a senior three boy’s dormitory at St Bernard Secondary School Manya in Rakai District on the Sunday night of 11th November 2018
Some of the deceased that perished in this grotesque incident were identified as Charles Ssuuna, 16, Sam Nsubuga, 15, Tomity Bukenya, 16, Geoffrey Lutaaya, 21, Remegious Tamale, 16, Antonio Ssekitende, 15; Hudson Byamukama, 22, Emmanuel Kasozi, 15, Sharif Dodiye,15 and Maurice Basiita, 15.
The daily monitor newspaper of November 12th, 2018 quotes Kayanja Kabogere, an eyewitness saying that rescuers used an axe to open the door on the dormitory. This is because the door had been locked from out.
The heartrending and poignant news of the St Bernard’s fire happened after 10 years since the horrid Buddo Junior school fire that led to 20 deaths including 18 pupils and 2 adults.
In the wake of this fire, police were quick to issue safety guidelines as the case was after Buddo. These included having robust fire safety measures like fire hydrants, firefighting equipment, training of the school community in firefighting and setting up assembly points. The most rehearsed one is the removal of burglar-proofs from windows.
Perhaps what can’t go unquestioned is when do we as people and government think of enforcing guidelines?
A keen observation of the different grisly events that have occurred shows how unprepared we are and act reactively than proactively.
It is after landslides that we sing the choruses of the relocation of victims from risky mountainous areas like Bududa to Kiryandongo.No one takes responsibility for the dithering and negligence that culminates into deaths, destruction of property and misery. The closest we had was a threat to resign by a minister in charge of disaster preparedness and refugees.
It is after rampant accidents that our policemen are awakened to rejuvenate operations on highways and enforcing of all sorts of traffic regulations. What happened to speed governors and use of seatbelts?
If one has lived here for at least a year, he/she will confidently testify that it is after warnings of terror attacks that we think of employing security guards, use of metal detectors in taxi/bus parks, churches and a litany of public places and events.
It is also after the gruesome and dexterous assassination of ‘important people’ that we think of installing CCTV cameras, training of Local Defense Units, banning of hoods for motorcycle riders and tinted cars among other fire brigading approaches. How do I forget sharpshooters?
Such and other happenings demonstrate a classic case of washing hands after eating as opposed to before which would reduce the risk of eating disease-causing germs. The currently available conspiracy theories from the burning of St Bernard’s point to visible laxity and negligence on both the side of school authorities and the ministry.
Reportedly, the school had burglar-proofs, triple-decker beds which had been denounced by the ministry. The police also confirmed that fire extinguishers at the school had expired.
Related to the foregoing, it is evident that there was inaction on the side of the standards body (ministry of education) which partly bed-rocked the senseless deaths would be future stars. For instance, was there an inspection report by the ministry to show that certain safety measures and standards were not adhered to even when they were issued out over 10 years ago?
No life should be lost due to such insensitivity. When you don’t inspect, you don’t expect.
The author is a socioeconomic commentator and a student at the law development center.