A section of the Lodge on fire

The fire that gutted the main building at Brovad Sands Lodge in Kalangala District on Monday night could have started from a short circuit, according to the police.  The grass-thatched building hosted the bar, kitchen and restaurant.

James Mugoya Nandu, the Kalangala Police Community Liason Officer (CLO), says preliminary findings show that the fire started after 10 pm on Monday. “Workers told police that the fire started in the ceiling, it spread very fast because it was grass thatched.  We tried to put out the fire with extinguishers and also ensured that power was switched off to prevent more damage since there were several electrical items inside,” Nandu said.

Adding that “The affected area had many things including towels, napkins, utensils,  saucepans, chairs, tables, Television sets. Most of these items are in ash form now. This is a huge loss.” Rashid Kiyimba, the Director of the lodge is yet to recover from the loss. Kiyimba is unable to speak at the moment, according to his friends, who told our reporter that management will issue a press statement later Tuesday.

Margaret Agugu, the General Manager of the lodge told police officers that she was sleeping when the first started. “I woke up after receiving a phone call about the fire,” Agugu said. Eyewitnesses led by Rotarian Ibrahim Ssenyonga, say that there were human casualties. “Luckily, no one was injured or killed when the fire broke out.” Ssenyonga,  who stays in the neighbour,  said he rushed to the lodge to ensure that they take safety precautions since they were using gas in the kitchen. “

He estimates that over Shs 2bn could have been lost in the destroyed property. “As a person who follows investment in the tourism industry, the items burnt or damaged cost over Shs 2bn such as the new equipment in the bakery,” Ssenyonga adds, “I urge players to learn a lesson from this incident. They should use fire-proof grass to thatch like the artificial fire retardant grass.”

Ssenyonga says there is a need for the Uganda Police Force to equip Kalangala Central Police Station with water hydrants and other fire fighting equipment. “The property could have been saved if we has a fire brigade because this fire could only be put out using water or sand. The extinguishers at the lodge could not put out such a fire. No wonder everything got burnt. Thankfully, there has been heavy rain this morning and the fire has reduced. But there is still smoke in that part of the lodge,” he said.

“Even if the fire brigade from Masaka was to respond, it would have taken them over two hours to reach the scene,” another resident, who preferred anonymity said.  The resident added, “We are on our own whenever there is a fire outbreak. So we ask the government to consider giving us fire fighting equipment to reduce losses.”

Brovad Sands Lodge is one of the over 100 hotels, inns and lodges in the Kalangala district. It has 40 rooms that usually house some of the many tourists that flock to Kalangala for forest walks, bird watching, boat cruises and picnics among other activities. Before the advent of COVID-19, Kalangala District was collecting close to Shs 70 m every month from the local tax levied on the hospitality industry.

Kalangala district, made up of 84 islands, attracts thousands of tourists because of its rich historical and cultural heritage, which includes hosting the royal regalia in Bubembe and Bukasa shrines, the Luggo forest, home of the tree species that the Buganda royal mace is moulded from.  

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