Students forced out of halls over asbestos roofs

A section of halls of residence roofed with asbestos at National Teachers College Kabale on Monday. Students and authorities say the halls leak whenever it rains. PHOTO/ROBERT MUHEREZA

What you need to know:

  • Dilapidated halls of residence roofed with condemned asbestos sheets remain a threat to students at National Teachers College Kabale.

Dilapidated halls of residence roofed with condemned asbestos sheets remain a threat to students at National Teachers College Kabale.

As such, some students have been forced to seek accommodation outside the college premises.

The college principal, Ms Annet Komunda, on Monday said the appalling situation has forced the administration to appeal to the government and its partners for immediate redress since the condemned and leaking asbestos sheets are a health hazard to human life, besides being a problem to the students during the rainy seasons.

“We need about Shs3.7b for rehabilitation of the seven dilapidated halls of residence at the college, including the removal of the condemned asbestos sheets,” Ms Komunda said.

In August 2019, the institution received Shs9.4b for the partial rehabilitation of the pedagogy department that ended in August 2020. 

The Minister of Education, Ms Janet Museveni, commissioned the project in November 2020. 

The project was funded by the Government of Uganda and its Belgian partners under the Enabel project, where 15 lecture rooms, three science laboratories, a resource centre, dining hall, sports grounds, administration block, and a kindergarten complex were rehabilitated at a cost of €1,962,445 (Shs8b).

However, authorities said the college required extra funds for the rehabilitation of the students’ halls of residence and the staff quarters.

“Some students have opted to seek accommodation outside the college premises. This kind of situation does not only inconvenience the students as they have to walk for some distance to attend late evening discussions at the college premises but is also a security threat to their lives and properties,” Ms Komunda said.

Ms Komunda said they have already informed the Ministry of Education and Sports, together with the Ministry of Health and other development partners about the dilapidated halls of residence and they are still waiting for their response.

According to the administrators, the college has an enrollment of 980 students pursuing diplomas in primary education and diplomas in early childhood education.

They said plans are underway to elevate the institution to a degree-awarding one under the Uganda National Institute for Teacher Education (UNITE) that is expected to begin in July this year.

The danger
According to health experts, exposure to asbestos causes cancer of the lung, larynx, ovary, and mesothelioma, a relatively rare cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen. 

“When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems,” a report by the National Cancer Institute, reads. 

Asbestos exposure can also cause shortness of breath, coughing, and permanent lung damage, as well as abnormal collections of fluid between the thin layers of tissue lining the lungs and the wall of the chest cavity.