Rakai School Fire: Police approves dormitory renovation

By Davis Buyondo

The Headmaster, Henry Nsubuga, said the process started last week and it’s expected to be completed in the first or second week of the first term in February.

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The renovation of Senior Three dormitory at St. Bernard’s SS-Mannya in Rakai district has commenced.

The Headmaster, Henry Nsubuga, said the process started last week and it’s expected to be completed in the first or second week of the first term in February.

Unknown arsonists sneaked in the school on November 11 and burnt the dormitory using petrol. 10 students died and 37 admitted with critical injuries.

Police have since treated the dormitory, a crime scene prohibiting unauthorised access amid investigations.

As a result, Nsubuga explained that the restriction caused a setback in the renovation process.

He further added that they had earlier procured building materials including cement, iron sheets, timber, paint, nails and others in December 2018.

“Police and other concerned organs finally approved us to proceed with the process. And with the presence of all the required materials, the facelift will not stop at any time,” he said.

In addition, Kooki Chiefdom and Buganda Kingdom contributed 150 bags of cement and 100 iron sheets towards the process.

Nsubuga also noted that the Cotton On Foundation also pledged to build a strong perimeter wall around the school to thwart intrusion.

Much as the construction of the perimeter wall may take a little more time, he said they are optimistic it will come to pass.

 oubledeck beds already manufactured at the schools workshop Double-deck beds already manufactured at the school's workshop


The school contracted BanaBuddu Royal Contractors Limited to do rebuild the dormitory.

Frank Jjuuko, the site Engineer, told the New Vision, that at least five weeks were planned to complete the dormitory. So far one week has gone and four weeks are left.

According to him, it is mostly the roof top and the gable walls which were badly ruined. And after inspection of the entire dormitory, Jjuuko found the rest of the walls strong.

“The walls are 250-millimeters thick. We are going to remove the 25mm-plaster off the wall, and replace it. Also the gable walls and floor concrete will be removed and replaced with new floor,” he explained. 

In addition, the burglar proofing will be removed from the windows while the doors (900mm wide) will be replaced with those of 1,200mm wide.

Since the dormitory had two sections (rooms), Jjuuko said each of the section will have two doors, one for regular or normal entrance and exits, and the other for emergency situations.


Concerning the security matter, the school has recruited 15 security officers. The headmaster said they work in shifts during day and night to ensure safety.

“This time, we will not expect any intrusion whatsoever because we are more alert. We have reserve force and police officers to guard the school,” Nsubuga said.

Still, he added, they are planning to procure about 70 security cameras, which will be installed at the school.


It is said that the students could not escape through the burglar proofs during the fire incident,

Following the incident, Rosemary Sseninde, the State Minister for Primary Education, gave an order to boarding schools to remove all burglar-proofing on their windows for the safety of all occupants.

She further vowed to close schools that disobey the order and further cautioned head teachers and directors to implement the directive before the term begins in February.

However, Nsubuga explained that they are currently implementing the guideline to remove burglar proofing from the dormitories.

Similarly, Cotton on Foundation contracted a team of builders to remove and replace the bugler proofs at the primary section (St. Nicholas-Mannya).

Triple-deck beds

The double-deck beds are being manufactured at the school to replace the triple-deck beds.

During the recent visit, more than 200 double-deck beds had been made while more were in the process.

This, Nsubuga said, will help to de-congest the dormitories and even create enough passage for the students.