Jinja schools still stuck with hazardous asbestos roofing

Some of the buildings at Mainstreet Primary School in Jinja City as seen on February 26, 2024 with deadly asbestos PHOTO/ TAUSI NAKATO.

What you need to know:

  • Some of the schools are in the heart of Jinja thus the asbestos could trigger long term effects affecting the city population.

At least four traditional primary schools in Jinja City are still stuck with hazardous asbestos which poses health threats to pupils, authorities have said.

Jinja City Education Officer Haruna Mulopa says the primary schools include Main Street, Naranbhai, Army Boarding and MM Wanyange.

Thousands of pupils in the aforementioned schools, which were constructed in the 1950s, are studying under classrooms roofed with condemned asbestos, which presents health hazards to their lives.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to asbestos causes different types of cancer, especially lung, larynx, ovarian and mesothelioma, while the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that about 100,000 workers die annually from asbestos-related diseases.

“The existence of these asbestos is due to financial constraints the schools are currently facing, but we are aware of the dangers of having asbestos on school buildings,” he said on Tuesday.

Mulopa added that they are yet to register any disease or fatality case resulting from the existence of asbestos because its effects are long term.

Mulopa urges organisations to extend financial support to these schools to replace the asbestos, noting that they have a master plan of patterning with former pupils of those schools.

“We have partnered with well-wishers like Old Boys and Old Girls of these primary schools like Main Street, with a view of working on their asbestos and I know we shall move step-by-step until we reach all schools,” he told Monitor.

The chairperson school finance management committee at Main Street Primary School, Meddy Mbetyo, said they are struggling to ensure that they remove all asbestos from their buildings.

“This month (February), we held a marathon to raise funds to de-roof all asbestos and raise Shs12m. We want to take this campaign to other schools. However, I ask the government to prioritise issues of removing asbestos from all schools’ roofing,” he remarked.

Main Street Primary School is in the courtyard of Jinja City.

“Therefore, having asbestos on a school building affects the entire community, not just those under its roofing,” Mbetyo observed.