A day without water at UCU

BY DEDAN TUMUSIIME AND RHODA NAKAWOOZA

“Water is Life” is a common saying. The saying was proved by the UCU community on January 16. Unlike the other good days, most of the members of the university community arose to the shock of dry taps. The incident that lasted a day affected the daily activities of the community.

Agnes Mirembe, a resident of Sabiiti Hall, woke up at her usual time of 7:00am to start her day. 

“I gathered my bucket, towel and tooth brush and rushed to the bathroom. I always wake up at 7:00 am because if you go to the bathroom later, you will find a long line and it will take a lot of your time,” she explains.

But her early-bird plan was ruined when she discovered that there was no water in the taps. 

“It was something I had never expected to happen in UCU. I was in so much shock that I stood in the bathroom for about five minutes before I decided to head back to my room,” she explains.

Ivan Okoth, a first-year student, said he had to go to class without taking a shower because of shortage of water. “But it was not easy since the month is hot and we sweat a lot,” he said.  “I could not wear the attire that I wanted that day because it would make me uncomfortable.”

This was the plight of many students especially those who reside within the university halls of residence. Water disappeared in the night. At around 10am, the residential assistant of Sabiti Hall pinned a notice on the residential notice board to inform the students to be calm and patient about the water shortage.

Some of the students had to go to affiliated hostels such as Little Angels and Shalom just to take a shower. The Standard learnt that many students who were unable to access water were forced to use perfumes, deodorants while some resorted to the ‘kabazimbi’ way of showering which involved using the little water available to wash the most important parts of the body.

“It was something I had never expected to happen in UCU.”

“We had some little water we had stored and this helped us a lot to wash some body parts,” one student said.

The water shortage did not only affect students but staff as well. One of the staff members at The Standard said that after ignorantly using the office bathroom which had no water, he moved around campus hunting for water and soap to clean his hands. Thanks to the university canteen, which still had some water he used.

During the community worship in Nkoyoyo Hall later that day, the Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, explained that the cause of the water shortage was due to the construction work being done on the Kampala-Jinja Road at Kigunga.

“I apologise for the shortage of water. We were told by the National Water and Sewarage Corporation that the problem would only last a day,” Dr Senyonyi explained.

Though the water shortage was abrupt, the kitchen management at the university was not affected so much to the point of halting their daily activities. “We did not actually get a big challenge because we have a water reservoir,” Mr Richard Ekadu, the catering officer, said.

Ekadu added that water shortages are not a big problem to them if they do not last long. 

“The kitchen uses the National Water and Sewerage Corporation  for consumption and if there is water shortage, we use water from Ntawo,” he said.

One of the chefs at the kitchen also explained that there came a time when they were about to experience a water shortage in the course of that day but that it was prevented by the Director of Students Affairs, who bought in a truck of water that supplied the kitchen. 

It’s very rare for such a water shortage to hit UCU unlike other universities such as Makerere where water in the halls of residence is a common problem.  The Director of Facilities at UCU, Eng David Kivumbi, said the shortage came about due to a leakage on the pipes that bring water from the reserve water source in Ntawo during the road construction.  “This water shortage was inevitable since one of our reserve tanks had a leakage and was under repair,” he said.