By Petride Mudoola
Two inmates of Luzira Maximum Security Prison on Sunday suffocated as they were trying to unblock a sewerage system inside Murchison Bay Prison.
The dead are 33-year-old Hassan Higenyi from Butaleja district who was serving a five-year sentence for the unlawful possession of government stores and 31-year-old Jimmy Sendagire who was serving three years on a similar offence.
They died while trying to unblock sewage in the prison’s sewer line connection with the lagoon. Sendagire was due to complete his sentence in 2015.
Frank Baine, the prison’s publicist, who described the incident as unfortunate, said the two were part of the plumbing team attached to the prison’s maintenance unit where they have worked for the last two years.
“These men were trained in plumbing and since they are attached to that section, they repaired minor blockages within the detention facility.
Unfortunately, the duty officer this time underestimated the problem. Unaware that the tunnel leading to the lagoon is deeper, he assigned the inmates who were armed with rodding sticks.
“They descended into the manhole to try and unblock the system. We usually seek for the services of National Water and Sewerage Corporation whenever there are blockages in the prison’s sewerage system.”
“While they were under the sewer, he added, they suffocated due to a concentration of carbon monoxide. Efforts were made to rescue them but it was not possible, and by the time fire brigade came in, they were dead,”Baine said.
Abdul Mwendi, the third prisoner to enter the manhole, narrowly escaped death. After being lowered into the hole, he called out for help after realizing that one of his colleagues was motionlessness.