Schools Close as Police Fire Teargas in Classrooms

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In short
Several schools have been closed along Masaka –Bukakata road as police fired teargas in classrooms to disperse protesters on Monday.

Several schools have been closed along Masaka –Bukakata road as police fired teargas in classrooms to disperse protesters on Monday.

Some of the closed schools are St Bernard Kasaala primary school, Brain Trust primary school and Luvule secondary school all found in Bukakata Sub County. The schools closed temporarily and all the pupils and students were sent home following the police decision to fire teargas in the classrooms and compound to disperse angry residents protesting the delay in rehabilitating Masaka-Bukakata road.

In August, the Works and Transport Ministry announced that construction of Masaka-Bukakata road would start in September this year. John Byabagambi, the Works and Transport State Ministe, told Masaka leaders at Kachanga landing site that government had secured funds from Islamic Development Bank.

But on Monday morning, residents mostly boda boda motorists and drivers using the 44km road went on rampage and closed down the road demanding for its immediate  construction. Some of the trading centres which witnessed violence are Luvule, Sunga, Kako, Kiyumba, Bukakata, and Lambu among others.  In these trading centres protesters dug huge holes in the middle of several road sections and planted banana suckers.

The protesters blocked many of the road sections and burnt car tyres forcing police to intervene. Police used teargas and live bullets to disperse the protesters. At Kasaala primary school, St. Kizito Memorial secondary school and Brain Trust primary school, police fired teargas in the compound and classrooms injuring some pupils and students.

Peter Buyondo, a senior two student of St. Kizito Memorial School, was hit and injured with a teargas canister. He says he was in the compound when the police chasing protesters hit him with a teargas canister. He claims that the police also assaulted him accusing him and the teachers of taking part in the protest.

Buyondo, who was hit on the head, has been rushed to Kiyumba Health Centre IV bleeding profusely.

Henry Lukyamuzi, a primary six pupil of Kasaala primary school, says they were writing their end of year examination when police fired teargas in the school compound. He says the teachers asked them to call off the Social Studies Examination.

Kizito Nsamba, a driver along Masaka-Bukakata road who joined the protest, claims that his car is in poor mechanical condition due to the poor state of this road. He explains that his Toyota Ipsum car has lost its shock-absorbers because of the huge potholes in the middle of this road. Kizito says he wants the road repaired immediately because it is now very costly for him to repair his car.

Eddie Sserunjogi, the Masaka district Police commander who commanded the operation against the protest, has denied firing teargas in the schools. He claims that his men only fired teargas against protesters who were blocking the road from being used by other road users.

Sserunjogi said police will not allow any other protests in the area because the road is in better condition compared to other roads around the country.

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But Uganda National Roads Authority says the construction of this road will mostly likely start next year. Dan Alinange, the UNRA Spokesperson has told Uganda Radio Network on phone that the construction work has been delayed by lack of funds. He said that government expected funds from Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa this year but the institution has not yet sent the funds.

Alinange says they submitted al the bidding documents and designs of the road but the financial institution told them to be patient up to next year.


About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.