Aisha Kadala is literally on her death bed. Her poor parents in Kamuli where she is being treated are awaiting her death. All hope has been lost. Aisha is one of the many people who were injured after a building on Nakivubo Mews owned by filthy rich city tycoon Sudhir Rupaleria collapsed on July 22 this year.
Part of the very old building was being demolished to construct a Crane Bank branch when it collapsed with over 40 people who worked in it were inside. Some people had stores on this building, others cooked food from there to supply traders around the area.
26 people in total were injured, 7 seriously. When the building collapsed, Aisha Kadala, who was cooking food at the time, was hit and in the processes food, charcoal and sauce poured on her, literally cooking her entire body. Another victim, Wasswa Mayiga, broke a leg; Yonasani Kyaterekera also broke a leg, Shakira Nakalema broke her back, Mayimuna Nabakka broke a foot, while Florence Kizza miscarried!
Following the tragedy, Police rushed the injured to Mulago national referral hospital and the IGP, Gen. Kale Kayihura, directed that the owner of the building would have to meet their medical bills. However frustration and neglect is all they can recount as they were not treated and eventually left hospital to fight for their lives.
They say the owner of the building refused to compensate them. And according to KCCA the building was no longer even on the city plan because it was very old. The area LCI who they expected to fight on their behalf instead summoned them to a meeting and gave those operating in the building six days to vacate!
The spokesperson of Uganda Tenants Needy & Squatters' Association (UTENSA), Ahmed Bigali Kaweesa, says since the IGP directed that the owner of the building compensate the victims they thought the matter had been settled.
He says the day following the tragedy, July 23, the UTC area LC I chairman, Okello Lukwajja Kalo, wrote to the tenants summoning them for a meeting. He says they thought he was going to intervene but instead gave them a six-day ultimatum to leave.
Kaweesa says: We went to KCCA to inquire about the building and the Authority spokesperson, Peter Kauju, told us the building was no longer on the city plan because of its dilapidated state. When the LC chairman chased these people, on July 24 we went to Mulago to see the victims.
We were shocked to find only one of the seven people that had been admitted. We found Aisha whose entire body had been cooked. Other has left the hospital.
We talked to the medical staff on duty but they said they had no clue where they had gone! We decide to go see Sudhir at Crane bank, where we were told to write a letter requesting for help which we did.
When we handed in the letter a member of Sudhir's PR office we knew as Galiwango called us telling us that they were aware of only two people who had been admitted and they had been compensated fully. We demanded that he shows us the people they compensated which he failed to do.
Later when we went back to hospital to see Aisha, she had also left. We were directed to her home in Kamuli where we found her in very bad shape. She said she had no money to to get some of the drugs so her people decided to take her home to be treated by a herbalist.
When we established that none of the victims had been compensated, we approached KCCA boss Jenifer Musisi who assigned someone to handled our matter. However we have not received any help since.
Barbara Babirye of Mengo, a victim says:
When the building collapsed blocked hit me and I broke a foot. I never got any help at Mulago because we were not given any drugs and as I speak now I am heavily indebted.
Yonesani Kyaterekera of Nateete says:
I had a store on the building where traders kept their merchandise especially those who operated in Owino. It was in the morning when the building collapsed and before I knew it I lost consciousness I regained consciousness when I was at Mulago.
My leg had been twisted at the knee. I spent three days at Mulago before I was discharged. I later found out the LC I had given us an eviction notice and right now I am helpless. Those whose merchandise I used to keep in the store are demanding for it yet I don't even have money to look after myself. I am heavily indebted and have accumulated medical bills.
Mayimuna Nabaka - Mengo
I had spent two years on the building cooking food. On the fateful day we were still cooking when the building collapsed. We fell all the way from the top to the bottom. I broke my left foot.
We were taken to Mulago but never got any help because they demanded that we first pay money. I got people to treat me and I am slowly recuperating.
I have never got any money from Sudhir yet we had paid rent upfront. When shall we ever get back our money when were evicted?
John Ssejoba - Mutundwe:
I had just reached the building that morning when it collapsed. I broke my jaw and was taken to the KCCA hospital at City Hall but got no help. I am now footing my own bills and still hurting a lot. If Sudhir is truly an investor let him compensate me.
Simon Kakande - Gombe:
I had spent six years on the building and was even a resident there. I had a store where traders kept their merchandise. On the fateful day, I had spent the night in the village in Gombe and was called when it collapsed.
I found my colleagues had been taken to hospital in Mulago but the next morning the chairman, Okello Lukwajja, called us to a meeting and evicted us. All our merchandise was destroyed and stolen. I wonder how Sudhir can refuse to compensate us because he knows me personally as I have been his tenant for long.
About the building:
As with all other properties of Sudhir in Kampala, rent is paid in dollars. The building was managed by Mega Enterprises LTD and was charging US$4,800 monthly.
Individuals have been paying between sh350,000 and sh2,000,000. depending on the business. Those cooking were paying sh442,500 monthly. This is what goes to Sudhir though Mega Enterprises is paid sh600,000 monthly.
A staff of Crane Management Services LTD that managed Sudhir's properties says they contracted a company to demolish the building.
Why doesn't Sudhir demand that they compensate the traders? And even then, why did they get a KCCA letter authorising them to demolish the building two weeks after the tragedy? Why Sudhir still using a dilapidated building that KCCA had taken off the city plan and directed that it is demolished?
Why did Police not arrest those who were demolishing it? Why is police so guarded about this case file?
Okello Lukwaja, the chairman, says:
It was wrong for the contractor to start demolition without informing the tenants. When the tragedy happened, I was forced to evict them because it was risky operating from there.
I did not help those who were affected because no one has yet approached me. The Kampala metropolitan police spokesperson, Ibn Ssenkumbi does not know whether those who were in charge of demolishing the building were apprehended even though Gen. Kayihura directed so.
What Crane Management says
John Sebutinde of Crane Management Services Limited says the contractor who was to refurbish the building should compensate the victims because that it what we agreed.