Makerere Fire: University kicks off process to recover staff records

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When fire gutted Makerere University’s Main Building last year, many people including staff, current and former students were worried that several records and documents will never be recovered as many of the old files had been kept in the building.  

The areas affected by the fire had documentation about the university investment portfolio, council records, Memorandums of Understanding, and audit reports. Legal and financial documents were also stored there, alongside human resource information including staff contracts,  retirement information among other critical records. 

However, at the height of the tragedy and subsequent challenges that the fire cast onto the institution, the University Vice-Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe allayed fears saying that “all our records past and current; Human Resource, student, academic and financial records are safely stored in digital form.” 

Prof. Nawangwe further added that other information, for instance staff and students’ records, is also kept at the different colleges and at the senate where it could be recovered as and when it is deemed needed.  

Several interviews that Uganda Radio Network – URN conducted at that time with some administrative staff revealed that most of the records and documents including those that were in the university central registry could be hard to reconstruct. The sources pointed out that many very old files had been lost forever since majority were still kept in hard copy files. 

At the scene of the fire, some university members of staff were seen with a few documents that they had managed to save. But, it remained unclear whether any documents located in the offices that had remained standing on the first day of the incident were salvaged given the huge amounts of water used to put out the fire.  

But Prof. Nawangwe has made it clear that has already embarked on recovery and reconstruction process starting with current staff information.     

In a letter dated January 6th addressed to all staff, the acting human resource director Lawrence Ssanyu has directed them to provide all their employment-related and other important records not later than January 20, 2021.     

“…the university is in process of reconstruction of staff records following the fire that gutted the main building. the office of the deputy vice-chancellor Finance and administration is spearheading this noble cause with support from the directorate of human resource,” the letter reads in part adding that document should be submitted to respective human resource officers of colleges/units.

The required document ranges from appointment letter, confirmation letter, Academic documents, passport photos, photocopies of national identity card among other documents that have been issued to them from time to time including leave and transfer letters among other.   

Besides Human Resource Information, many stakeholders were worried about university financial records and student information. Although the fate of financial records is not yet clear, the university has assured the many people who have gone through Makerere about the safety of their academic documents saying that they are kept in The Academic Registrar’s Office which is located at the Senate Building.  

However, up to date, just other fires and cases, no report has been released on the series of investigations that were conducted to ascertain the cause of the fire that left the iconic building in ashes. when the investigations started, the police promised to present a report in one month.  


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