New Vision (Kampala)

20 February 2013

Uganda: Rid Schools of Asbestos Roofs, Govt Told

Parliament has ordered the government to phase out the use of Asbestos sheets as roofing materials in all schools and technical colleges to avert the health and safety hazards associated with its usage.

Debating a report of the committee on science and Technology on the status of science and Technology in Ugandan colleges yesterday, MPs recommended that government replaces all asbestos roofing in educational institutions and replace them with iron sheets that are health friendly.

According to committee Vice chairperson Kafeero Ssekitoleko, most of the Technical colleges that the committee visited were still roofed with asbestos.

"During one of our visits, the Principal Uganda Technical College (UTC) Lira Charles Ojilong told us that a staff member of the college died after using water harvested off an asbestos roof. His eyes swelled and shortly afterwards developed complications and died," Kafeero told MPs Tuesday.

The MPs suggested that government allocates a specific amount of money in the national budget for the abolition of Asbestos cement sheets in the entire country.

"Kyambogo University still has rooms roofed with Asbestos. There should be a special budget for the eradication and use of these sheets in the country," said Beatrice Anywar, Kitgum woman MP.

Mbale municipality MP Jack Wamai Wamanga added; "Asbestos was abolished long time ago but it is everywhere in Technical schools. We should ban it because it is very dangerous to this country".

The World Health Organization has in the past banned the use of Asbestos sheets due to diseases like cancer that are associated with the sheets.

The report further indicated that most of the colleges had obsolete equipment that was not in conformity with the modern technologies currently being used in the market place.

In its other report on the status of science and Technology in public universities, the committee recommended that government increases funding towards science teaching in secondary schools through construction of laboratories and provision of requisite equipment like chemicals and reagents.

Both reports were adopted by Parliament on Tuesday.

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