By Shamim Nalubega & Emmanuel Masambu
Some people might never think that bedbugs can become a nuisance, but for several students who have gone through Makerere University, the story is different.
Students and former students say they suffered because of bedbugs, which infested some halls of residence.
Emmanuel’s story is similar to that of many students who have been affected by bedbugs. He recently visited a friend in Livingstone Hall at Makerere University, where he spent the night, only for bedbugs to feast on him.
“The night I spent in Livingstone Hall has been the longest of my life.
I saw a colony of bedbugs I had never seen before. However, I was surprised that while I complained, it was business as usual for my host who was snoring,” Emmanuel said.
Students speak out
Robinson, who hosted Emmanuel, said he also suffered with the bedbugs when he first joined the university. But, he added, with time, he got used to the bites.
“I complained to the warden, but he did not offer a solution. I gave up trying to get help from him. I am planning to have my room fumigated,” Robinson said.
“If the university authorities do not take action, bedbugs will one day kill a student,” he added.
Kezia, a resident of Complex Hall at Makerere University, also said bedbugs had given her a hard time. “We are told the halls are fumigated during holidays, but I think the insecticide used is not effective.”
Kezia added that sometimes, students fumigate their rooms in addition to pouring hot water on property infested with the bugs, but they never get rid of them.
Ivan Bwowe, the Makerere University guild president, said students raised complaints about bedbugs to him, which he forwarded to the administration. He explained that the administration had done massive fumigation on several occasions, but they had not got rid of the bedbugs.
“The university fumigates halls twice a semester. But there is need for continuous fumigation because students report back to the university at different intervals,” Bwowe said.
He also blamed students for not fumigating their property to get rid of bedbugs, before reporting back to the university, after holidays.
An official at one of the halls blamed students for spreading bedbugs. “Students come with property infested with bedbugs from their homes,” he said.
Cyraico Kabagambe, the dean of students at Makerere University, said they carry out both preventive and inoculative fumigation.
Kabagambe added that preventive fumigation is carried out to block attacks from insects, like bedbugs and cockroaches, in addition to small animals, like rats, from entering the halls. He added that inoculative fumigation is carried out as a response to the students’ complains about the insects.
Kabagambe said since the university was located in the city centre and was surrounded by trees, they expected insects and small animals to infest the halls.
Like the halls of residence, hostels in Kikoni and Wandegeya also suffer the same problem, although it is not as severe as it is at the university.
Pamela Amolo, the warden of Bira Hostel in Kikoni, said they carry out routine fumigation. She added that they try as much as they can to keep the hostel clean. But the problem of bedbugs is not isolated to only Makerere University.
Silver Muhumuza, a third year student at Kyambogo University, says there were complaints about an infestation of bedbugs at the university between August and December last year.
However, Moses Lukwago, the students’ guild minister of health, says he has not received any complaints about bedbugs from students.
Kyambogo University guild president Victor Iruba and Nabiira Nambooze, a second year student, also said they had never seen bedbugs at the university.
Makerere University Business School (MUBS)
Students speak out Sophie Muwayi, a resident of Berlin Hall at MUBS, says students have complained about bedbugs in some rooms.
“Whenever, we get a complaint about bedbugs, we report the issue to the administration and fumigation is immediately carried out,” Muwayi says.
However, Ann Babirye, another resident of Berlin Hall, says she has never seen bedbugs in her room. She adds that since the hall is fumigated regularly, it is protected from infestation by bedbugs.
Peter Odoki, the public relations officer of MUBS, says they do not have bedbugs in Berlin Hall since it is fumigated every holiday.
“Students who complain about bedbugs might have reported with infested property and there is nothing we can do for them right now,” Odoki adds.
Students at the Uganda Christian University, Mukono say they have never seen bedbugs in their halls of residence.
Leah Oketcho, a resident of Sabici Hall, said: “I have never seen bedbugs in my hall of residence. I have not even heard other students complaining about them.”
The first-year mass communication student said their halls of residence were insect-free since they were regularly fumigated.
Rogers Akanyijuka, a second-year student of mass communication, also said Nsibambi Hall, where he resides, is clean and free of bedbugs. “The halls are usually fumigated during holidays, even during the shortest breaks,” Akanyijuka said.
He added that he had never heard a student complain about bedbugs in their halls of residence. Jessica Nabawanuka, the outgoing health minister, says there have never been any complaints about bedbugs in any of the halls of residence. She
disclosed that they fumigate the halls at the end of every semester.
“There is a health committee that carries out health inspections, which helps in maintaining a certain level of cleanliness and an insect-free environment in the halls,” Nabawanuka says.
Milton Tweheyo, the dean of students, says there are no bedbugs in the halls of residence because they are fumigated at least twice a year.
“Cleanliness is a priority. Therefore, the halls are cleaned daily by our support staff,” Tweheyo says. He says whenever it comes to their knowledge that a student brought in infested property, they fumigate immediately.