Parliamentarians have asked Government to pay more attention to urban planning including fire management equipment to avert public danger as a key concept to national development.
They said Government should put more emphasis on more pressing demands that affect the lives of Ugandans directly or indirectly, especially those in low-income areas.
The discussion was in reference to the lack of fire management equipment and commitment across the country endangering people’s lives and property.
The MPs led by the Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga said there were many things Government needs to prioritize and address like the erratic urban planning in the country because as leaders they cannot explain the prevalence of more teargas per capita than fire extinguishers in the country.
Mukasa Aloysius (Rubaga South MP) had in a plenary session chaired by Deputy Speaker, Anita Among voiced concern over the poor emergency response to fire outbreaks in the country by the Police Fire Brigade.
Mukasa said that he represents a constituency with several markets dealing in highly flammable materials and is therefore prone to fire outbreaks which often results in immense loss of life and property due to the slow response of fire emergency services.
He informed the House that oftentimes, whenever an incident of a fire outbreak happens, police firefighters attribute their slow response to limited water capability and at times the vehicles arrive at the sites carrying no water or with water tanks of low water pressure.
Mukasa said fire outbreaks are very common in his area, with one that happened in Kabowa and the most recent that happened in Ndeeba where a timber store caught fire at night destroying timber, heavy machinery, and finished products worth millions of money.
He added that the situation is worsened by the fact that there are very few water hydrants and fire extinguishers across Kampala which requires a water truck to go back and refill and then return to try and put out fires.
Buvuma Islands MP, Robert Migadde also said that it is not even an issue of access to these emergency services but that we lack the required facilities to manage these fires. He made mention that one of the prominent places where there have been fire outbreaks is the Park Yard area which has suffered close to four fire outbreaks.
Migadde said Park Yard is just a walkable distance to Clock Tower where we have the National Fire Response team but all the times, the team has failed to put out the fires leading to a complete burndown of the place.
He said people of Buvuma Islands cannot even reach out to the police in case of a fire outbreak because they know the police will not show up since they don’t even have a police fireboat in the constituency.
Among also stressed that the issue was a matter of urgency because people’s lives and property are at stake. She told the House that on November 16, 2021, the day of the Twin Bombs in Kampala, she also took it upon herself to call for a fire extinguisher but was shocked that it took more than an hour for it to get to Parliament.
Unamused by the various submissions from the members, Mpuuga advised the Government to stop lamenting about their struggle to get a budget and instead get their priorities straight as a country.
“If you look at our priorities in the last five years, as planners, how much have we voted to support the fire department of the police as opposed to its teargas counterpart? If people can get budgets for non-issues, why can’t we plan and budget for fire hydrants and fire extinguishers,” he raged.
He added that for a country like Uganda that is blessed with water sources everywhere to lack water hydrants is just scandalous before urging the Government to stop sleeping on duty.
“The last time I checked there was a whole Minister of Urban Planning and a deputy. What happened to urban planning in the country? So, this is an invitation by the society out there to Government to get out of its slumber and plan.”- Mpuuga.
Mpuuga said he is waiting for a very solid proposal by Government on how they are going to make the fire-prone areas accessible by the fire emergency service teams, make water hydrants available, buy more fire extinguishers, and limit or, if need be, even sell the teargas trucks to scrap dealers and buy fire extinguishers.
The Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa rose to inform the House that the Minister of Internal Affairs would be making a comprehensive statement on fire brigade response across the country.