PIC: Thick smoke emerging fom the building. (Photo Credit Jackie Nambogga)
Fire has razed one of the pioneer Kiira radio stations in Jinja town leaving about 40 workers jobless.
The 16-year-old station which started on February 19 2002 is located along Nalufenya/Clive road , opposite Kobil fuel station and adjacent to Shell petrol station.
According to Living Kitimbo, an employee of the station, the inferno started from the production studio at about 8:30am on Tuesday.
Kitimbo was at the time presenting the morning show dubbed ‘Kiira Parking’ together with two others, Julius Ssempala a.k.a Makengere and Tom Lumaama.
Ssempala said he saw a thick smoke emerging and grabbed the fire extinguisher as others struggled to fetch water in a basin to put out the fire.
“We could not aim well to put out the fire with the extinguisher because of the thick smoke, this made it escalate faster,” Kitimbo explained.
Kitimbo said it was difficult for them to communicate to police and their station manager, Ismail Kiiza in time because all their mobile phones had been kept in the production room.
Laptops including gadgets belonging to Rock Telecom Company that was sub-renting space at the radio station were all destroyed.
Ritah Nalukwago, a news anchor, said her academic transcripts and sensitive information on flash disks were all burnt.
Given that the two stations are a stone’s throw from each other, one of the radio staff jumped on a bodaboda to alert the Police.
Since both, the production and main studios were enclosed with mattresses inside; this gave way for the fire to spread faster.
On arrival, Police was accused of arriving late yet the two entities were about 150 meters from each other.
“You deserve a beating, how can it take you this long to get to the scene despite riding our motorcycles to let you know of the fire,” Hamuza Ngobi, a bodaboda cyclist shouted.
Police broke the window glasses and emergency doors and started splashing water.
However, the fire fighters suffered a setback because they had only one truck which ran out within 15 minutes.
At this point, residents were prompted to connect the small pipes onto a nearby water tap which they improvised to fight the fire as they waited for the police truck to bring in more water.
The truck made several trips to draw water at the police station until they were joined by fire fighters from Nytil textile industry in Njeru and TASCO factory in Jinja which helped the officers to put out the fire.
Hassan Okise, a resident wondered how Government could depend on the private sector to fight fires when it has a fully fledged police fire department.
The station manager, Ismail Kiiza said they had just replaced new equipment worth sh100m in the studio and news room alone.
However, the Kiira regional police commander, Onesmus Mwesigwa said the radio management underrated the fire thinking they could contain it.
Vincent Irama, the Jinja district police commander, said the fire began from within the radio premises.
The radio is housed on the upper floor of a three storyed building as the lower parts are occupied by Parkvilla restaurant, mobile phone shops, a betting shop and a gym galaxy.
The incident paralysed transport in the town after the temporary closure of Nalufenya/Clive road.