By Damali Mukhaye
The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, has said the fire that gutted the Main Building yesterday will not affect the reopening for medical students.The university had asked the final year students undertaking medical courses to report on October 3 for their last semester.The university Main Building was gutted by fire on Sunday, one week to the reopening, triggering speculation among the public and students.Many people said on social media the reopening of the university would automatically be affected by the fire because the financial documents for students are housed in the bursar’s office in the Main Building.However, Prof Nawangwe told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview that the reopening for finalists will not be affected.“The students are not going to study from the Main Building. The students can still come; their lecturers are ready and they will be taught. The reopening will go on as planned,” he said.According to the planned schedule for the reopening, the students will use eight weeks to complete the semester. Five of these will be for teaching and learning and three for examinations. Other students will complete the semester online following approval by the National Council for Higher Education.What the main building housedThe Main Building commonly known as the Ivory Tower, the iconic structure that defines Makerere University, which was consumed by a mysterious fire left key documents and material in ashes.The construction of the Ivory Tower was started in 1938 by the Duke of Gloucester, representing King George Vl . It was completed in 1941.The Main Building with its unique 20th century British architecture was constructed with funds from the Colonial Development Bourse.The university secretary, Mr Yusuf Kiranda, told Daily Monitor that the Main Building has two floors. He said the first floor houses offices of the vice chancellor, deputy vice chancellor, finance and administration, bursar (finance and accounts centre) and the university secretary.Second floorMr Kiranda added the second floor houses the directorates of internal audit and human resources as well as the public relations office and the council room. The ground floor consists of the extension of the bursar’s office, senior and junior common rooms and the main hall where meetings are conducted.Mr Kiranda said the directorate of human resource houses major staff files, including payrolls, which were burnt. Mr Kiranda, however, said the human resources information, including the staff payroll, had been digitalised and integrated on the government’s payroll and pension system.