KAMPALA — Mbarara City North Member of Parliament Mwesigwa Robert Rukaari has asked the Speaker of Parliament to allow him table a motion —pushing for an enabling law to allow private sector own fire fighting systems.
The MP had also asked for encouragement of Volunteer Fire Departments with Volunteer Personnel providing emergency medical, fire and rescue services, citing examples of the recent fires at Kamwokya Market, the Makerere’s Ivory Tower building and Entebbe International Airport, which could have been halted with better preparedness.
Dr. Rukaari who is a business leader, and Chairman of the ruling NRM Entrepreneur’s League says voluntary fire fighting systems will aid quick response to put off fires and save the country billions of money lost annually through fire carnages.
The MP submitted his proposals during the Parliament’s Plenary Session on Tuesday, September 26, and contends that the absence of enough fire systems in different regions has affected the speed at which fire fighters responds to fireoutbreaks.
Instead of crying to the Government for, machinery, he said, in others countries like the US, “each county has a voluntary fire brigade paid for by the neighborhood fund”. “Instead of us loosing our property, we should have an enabling law to allow private sector own fire fighting systems,” the MP submitted.
The MP noted that despite having witnessed several fire out breaks in different institutions ranging from schools to night clubs, several cities, municipalities and towns “don’t have a single fire fighting system”.
He also observed that the police fire brigade must drive several kilometers amid traffic jam to to refill their fire fighting trucks in case of an outbreak.
Dr. Rukaari now says, that this is risky and “makes it hard for the police during fire outbreaks”.
Giving an example of Mbarara, the City has got only one fire hydrant that is located at Mbarara Fire Station, and noted that more needed to be done to have both the public services and private sector prepared.
Since the early 1990s, tens of modern buildings have been erected in Mbarara, including shopping arcades and hotels. Modern hospitals have also been constructed in this fast growing regional city.
The city has Mbarara Hospital, Mbarara Community Hospital in Kyamugorani, Kakiika Division, and Mayanja Memorial Hospital located in Nyamityobora Kakoba Division.
Institutions such Mbarara University of Science and Technology and Bishop Stuart University are located in the area.
Mbarara Fire station serves the six divisions of Mbarara City and the rest of the district. It is also used for emergencies along the Mbarara Kabale, Mbarara – Masaka and Mbarara – Kasese highways.
MP Rukaari says the problem is replicated nationally and there needs to be some thinking and actions at national level, to adress this lack of preparedness to effectively fight fire carnages.
According to the latest police Crime report, 2020, the fire and rescue emergencies increased by 1.6% in incidents handled, from 999 incidents handled in 2019 to 1,015 handled in 2020.
An enabling law helps institutions and private players to contribute to this cause, to avoid pitfalls like when then Inspector General of Police Edward Katumba Wamala, tried to mobilise police pickups from the public and private individuals and a red flag was raised regarding which law he was using.