Hima Cement faulted on factory fire, deaths

The team from National Building Review Board during their inspection of the Hima Cement factory on Sunday. PHOTO | MORIS MUMBERE

What you need to know:

  • The three people who died in the factory fire were identified as Isaac Anyama, Nicola Owora, and Innocent Dick Omodi while the injured are receiving treatment.
  • Ms Bwire put the factory officials to task to explain who approved the factory’s installation works and the procedures to be followed.

Preliminary findings into the fire that gutted the Hima Cement factory have revealed that the company did not implement occupational safety and health standards at the factory.

At least three people were killed and eight others injured in the fire.

While inspecting the factory to establish the cause of the fire on Sunday, the executive secretary of the National Building Review Board (NBRB), Ms Flavia Bwire, said there were no proper entry and exit points for the staff to evacuate the building. 

 “The size of the exit and the entry points do not cater for more than two people. Even if the workers scampered for safety, none of them could survive,” she said.

Ms Bwire added that the place is too congested and covered with strong perimeter walls which developed cracks during the explosion.

 “All the handles inside the factory which they (workers) touch while entering and coming out are metallic, but if they were made of wood they would touch and be able to move out,” she said.

She added that if the factory had considered implementing the Occupational Safety and Health Act, a lot would have been prevented.

Ms Bwire said after the investigations, they will make recommendations to the relevant authorities.

In his statement released on Saturday, the chief executive officer of Hima Cement, Mr Jean-Michel Pons, said: “What we know so far is that a team of staff was doing installation works at the light diesel oil tank when the incident happened. Our team is working with the authorities to further investigate the incident.”

He said after the investigations, they will officially write to NBRB on what exactly caused the fire.

Ms Bwire put the factory officials to task to explain who approved the factory’s installation works and the procedures to be followed.

She also requested to know the sub-contractor who was in charge of the section where installation works were taking place and specification measurements of the fuel pipe and tank.

“How did the sub-contractor arrive at the site without safety procedures and how did the factory award him the contract without knowing his worth?” Ms Bwire asked.   

 The three people who died in the factory fire were identified as Isaac Anyama, Nicola Owora, and Innocent Dick Omodi while the injured are receiving treatment.

Work is yet to resume at the factory.

The law

The Occupational Safety and Health Act 2006, Article 57 Section 2-4 talks about means of escape in case of fire.

(1) All means of escape from fire shall be properly maintained and kept free from obstruction.

(2) The contents of any room in which a person is employed shall be arranged or disposed to provide a free passageway for the persons employed in the room, as a means of escape in case of fire.

(3) A door of a building of a workplace and of any room in it, which affords a means of exit for a person employed in the workplace shall not be locked or fastened in such a manner that it cannot be easily and immediately opened from inside.

Compiled by Morris Mumbere, Joel Kaguta & Alex Ashaba



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