The Anti-Terrorism Police has risen concerns about the security levels in Makerere University after staff and students failed to respond to a bomb scare siren.
The siren, which went off at about 10:30am in the main building which houses offices of the top administrators and the main hall, on Friday, was switched on by security personnel after he found out an unidentified bag suspected to be containing a bomb.
However, the pace at which students attending a leadership conference in the main hall and the staff members who were inside at the time the siren went off, was very low and was criticised by police.
"We planted a suspicious object in the main hall, not to scare people, but to see how first they can evacuate a building once a bomb has been detected inside," said Moses Anoka, the DPC for Wandegeya. " But the response rate was alarming: we expected everyone to be out within the conventionally-allowed 5 minutes, but people took 25. If it was a real bomb, all of you would be dead now." He told a gathering that was in the Freedom Square.
Fredrick Hagirwa, the commander for Tactical Response Unit which is under the department of Counter Terrorism, said that the test is among their routine activities aimed at safeguarding congested places in the country and testing the alertness of security personnels.
"We had only told the DPC about this,
and no one else, but people didn't even run from the building! Someone just stood around the building yet the alarm means there is danger in the place. People should learn to take their lives as something important," said Hagirwa, adding that the previously in 2010, it took them 45 minuted to clear the building.
The vice chancellor for finance and academics, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said that terrorism is high in the country and there is need to avert it, adding Makerere is a place that can be of target and those inside it should always be alert because the institution has no parameter wall.
In the same way, Dr Tanga Odoi a lecturer at the same university criticised the reluctance. "The whole experience was good but Makerere staff portrayed a bad image. I saw some minding about closing their offices, trying to look for their phones! That is very primitive and sluggish...security should be a priority," cautioned the chairman, NRM electoral commission.
No person was injured in the stampede as the 'bomb' bag just contained clothes.