Who is responsible for these children’s deaths?

A fire in a dormitory at Budo Junior School in Wakiso, Uganda, claimed the lives of 18 children and 2 adults on Monday night, April 14, 2008. Much confusion still surrounds the cause of the fire, though there have been claims that it was the result of arson. The doors to the dormitory had reportedly been locked from the outside, trapping the children inside the burning building.

Sadly, this is just one of the many school fires that has broken out in Uganda in the past several years, although it is possibly the most costly in terms of loss of human life. The Daily Monitor reported that 33 fires have occurred in schools since 2003, and schools seem ill-prepared for such emergency situations. Did Budo have an emergency plan in case of fire or other disaster? If so, why did it fail? Why did it take fire fighters 90 minutes to arrive on the scene?

Why do disasters like this happen over and over again? Fires, collapsing buildings, major road accidents — everyone seems to shake their heads in sadness, splashing the papers with graphic images for a few days, and then little or nothing is done to prevent future tragedies from striking.

My editor at The Independent has a child who attends Budo. She lived in the now-burnt dormitory two years ago. I am so thankful her life was spared, but grieve for the children who were not lucky enough to escape. I know their families will remember and miss them always, but I hope the country will also not forget them and demand the protection their children deserve.

Patience Namukoye ———- P4C
Yvonne Namaganda ———- P5C
Tendo Sonia ———- P4E
Evlyne Zawedde ———- P4C
Patricia Namuyanja ———- P4W
Juliet Nambalirwa ———- P4E
Sylvia Nakandi ———- P4E
Juliet Lunkuse ———- P4W
Samantha Ntudhu ———- P4C
Judith Nakavuma ———- P4W
Latifa Namuleme ———- P4W
Joan Nabbosa ———- P4W
Faith Asiimwe ———- P4C
Elina Nalwoga ———- P4W
Patricia Nakkazi ———- P4
Mercy Akite ———- P4E
Barbara Natungonza ———- P4
Mariam N. Nakato ———- P5

As reported in The Daily Monitor: http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/news/Tragedy_at_Budo.shtml

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