|Fire Guts Jinja Hotel
December 17, 2004
THE Jinja Nile Resort Hotel was yesterday gutted by a fire
which reduced the multi-billion complex to rubble.
The main hotel block that housed the reception, offices,
the main bar, the dinning hall, the kitchen, the housekeeping
department, the health club, the accounts section, and one
of three conference halls was turned into ashes. The fire
broke out mid-afternoon.
World Food Programme (WFP) staff were holding a retreat
at the time of the fire. None of the delegates, drawn from
East Africa, was injured.
Financial controller Rakesh Pant said 72 WFP delegates
had just had their lunch when the fire broke out.
"The fire started from the health club, raced to the
residents' bar, before spreading to the kitchen. By the
time the Police came, the fire was all over the place,"
The Fire Brigade and Kakira Sugar Works fire fighters tried
without much success to contain the ravaging fire as the
workers looked on helplessly.
Drivers scrambled to drive away vehicles with diplomatic
numbers from the burning structure. The hotel guards battled
hard to keep away civilians out to loot property. But some
looters sneaked away with computers and cooking utensils.
Jinja Police chief Daniel Zeba did not say what caused
the fire. "We reached the scene as soon as we were
contacted but I told my staff to concentrate on the cooking
gas cylinder because had it exploded, the entire hotel would
have caught fire," Zeba said.
The US$15m (sh27b) Four-Star establishment was commissioned
in 2000. It had 90 luxurious cottages, three spacious conference
rooms, a swimming pool and a tennis court.
Rakesh said the loss could be in billions of shillings.
He said the fire had disorganised the hotel programmes
especially during the coming Christmas season.
WFP regional director for East and Central Africa, Arthur
Holdbrook, who was at the hotel, said, "It is absurd
because the retreat began today and was to end on Saturday."
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