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Uganda: Nine dead as a construction site collapses

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Nine people have been confirmed dead and two others still fighting for their lives at Mulago hospital where they were rushed after a building under construction collapsed in Lukuli-Nanganda Village, Makindye division in Kampala.

The building located on Soweto Road collapsed Saturday night. Scores of workers are feared trapped in the rubble of the three-storied building. Several construction workers have been staying on-site following a presidential directive which restricted movement of people in a bid to stop further spread of Covid-19.

Police have sealed off the site and opened investigations into the tragedy as the search for survivors continue.
The deputy spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan police, Mr Luke Owoyesigyere said eight bodies and had been recovered from the rubbles.
Police also rescued three people but one died moments after arriving at Mulago hospital.

However, authorities say the number of causalities could increase as more people are feared trapped in the rubble.
Nyakana David, an ambulance driver who was part of the first responders said: “We arrived at the scene at around 12am on Sunday and started the process of looking for survivors. From the time we arrived up to 11a.m, only three people were rescued where one was taken by the 999 police and two others rushed to Mulago hospital casualty ward. We later got another person but unfortunately he was found dead,” Mr. Nyakana said.

Mr Nyakana added that some of the survivors were identified as Juma Bukenya, 18, and Isaac Keba, 23 both were working as potters at the site. 
According to neighbors, the builders have been working on the site during day time and sleep in the same building during the night. It is believed that about 15- 20 workers were on the site by the time of the collapse. 
“The building collapsed at around midnight, then people started screaming thinking maybe it is a bomb. So we rushed to the scene and found the whole building had fallen down. There were people screaming from inside. When police arrived at the scene four people were retrieved but one of them was found dead. The wall had pressed him on the bed,” one Mubiru Sunday said.

The building had reportedly been condemned by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Physical Planning Department in March. The department had served a notice for construction works to be halted.
Mr Douglas Nsubuga, the Physical Planner at Makindye Division said that despite a directive for construction works to be halted pending a review of documentation regarding the building, the developer identified as Abraham Kalanzi took advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown to accelerate works on the site.

This publication learnt that by the time KCCA halted the works, the construction had just gone past the first floor and by the time it collapsed, the building had gone beyond the fourth floor. Nsubuga said the building was illegal.
According to information from Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), some developers alter approved plans without the consent of authorities while those without approved plans construct at night to evade detection and arrest.
Mr Nsubuga said that the developer had not acquired approved drawings and also lacked supervision from professional engineers. He appealed to developers to always acquire the requisite documentation involving approved plans and also have the required professionals to supervise the construction works.

“What comes out right now, we are sure the building was illegal…it didn’t have approved plans. But again, investigations have to go on to know the owner properly and the circumstances under which he was constructing and probably, the investigation report will inform us of the next course of action,” he said.

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