By Ivan Mwine
City tycoon Hamis Kigundu’s younger brother Haruna Ssentongo is said to be in hiding ever since he learnt that the police are hunting for him to explain circumstances under which a building he was constructing in Kisenyi downtown Kampala collapsed on 6th September, killing at least six people and leaving many others injured.
According to our sources, although he was expected to have reported himself to police a few hours or days after the incident had happened, Ssentongo is nowhere to be seen and efforts to locate him by both Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and police have proved futile.
It should be noted that this is the second building to collapse in Kampala City in a space of three weeks, following the one that collapsed on August 18th, in Kitebi, Rubaga Division, killing one person.
Credible information from our sources indicates that on June 30, KCCA’s physical planner for Central Division Villey Agaba, wrote a notice to Ssentongo, asking him to “immediately halt all ongoing works and provide him (Agaba) with a valid approved plan, name of inspector and hoarding permits”.
However, Ssentongo ignored the letter, which prompted Agaba to write to him again on July 29th warning the businessman against going ahead with the construction without KCCA but he still ignored him.Sources close to Ssentongo, when asked by police to explain what could have caused the collapse said that one of the pillars supporting the building had been knocked by a vehicle, which weakened it.
However, preliminary investigations by the National Building Review Board (NBRB) indicate that there was failure of the temporary supports to the slab under construction.
“After the failure of these supports, the slab at that level fell on the level below, thereby overwhelming the support on the slab as well. This ripple effect continued to the subsequent floors until the entire building collapsed,” the board tweeted.
The deputy Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson ASP Luke Owoyesigire told the media this week that efforts of police to trace Ssentongo such that he can explain what caused the building to collapse have since proved fruitless since he is nowhere to be seen.
However, while addressing journalists early this week, shortly after visiting the site, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago called not only for the arrest of Ssentongo, but also the site engineer and KCCA’s inspector for Central Division, asserting that they are also responsible for the negligence that resulted into the collapse of the building.
Meanwhile, we have learnt that the government has since ordered Ssentongo, who is said to be in hiding, to compensate all the relatives whose lives perished when the building collapsed and pay medical bills for those who got injuries.