Following last Friday’s motor pile-up accident, that took place in Kiryandongo, President Yoweri Museveni, directed that help be given the families of the dead and also to the survivors. He also directed for three days of national mourning.
The State House Finance Comptroller Lucy Nakyobe went to the families of the deceased victims at the Mulago National Referral Hospital and handed to them UGX 5 million; and UGX 3 million for the injured survivors. She was also able to “catch up” with one of the slightly injured and had been discharged to hand to him the UGX 3 million as stipulated.
The accident took place in Nada village, 12 kilometers from Karuma Bridge, Kiryandongo District on the Gulu-Kampala Highway. Twenty-two people died on the spot when the Gaaga bus they were traveling in from Lira run into a trailer carrying beer and a tractor. The vehicles pile-up left 15 people also injured, some of them seriously.
Acting on the instructions of the President, the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, immediately carried out the instructions to: declare three days of national mourning for the victims; and support for both the deceased, and the injured. “This directive was the President’s prerogative, which he has in many things; and this was one of them,” the Press Secretary to the Prime Minister, Julius Mucunguzi, explained to The Sunrise.
There have been serious accidents on the Ugandan roads, even in the very recent times, some almost as devastating as the Kiryandongo accident, but this is the first time Government has moved to declare days of national mourning and support for the bereaved and injured.
It was not yet clear whether this is the pattern of things to come involving such tragedies. Mucunguzi could not ascertain whether the Prime Minister had received a “blanket directive” to henceforth take similar action in such circumstances, or whether this was “a one-off” occurrence.
The Members of Parliament from the Lira Sub-region where the bus hailed from, blamed the accident ranging from: the carelessness of the drivers; to the poor state of the roads; to vehicles that are in dangerous mechanical conditions (DMCs). They vowed to bring the matter to the Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for debate as soon as possible.
They expressed anxiety that the spate of dangerous accidents has gone on unabated for a long time without a seeming solution to them. In the immediate future they recommended that “Police marshals” be instituted to travel in the passenger buses to oversee that the drivers observe speed limits and other traffic regulations.
But a number of observers say that this may only be a partial solution and may be short-lived. They want a raft of traffic rules to be instituted and observed by all motor vehicle divers including the bodaboda riders, some of whom have brought untold suffering to the travellers.
Some sections of the public have however raised questions as to why the President accorded special attention to the victims and relatives of the victims of the Kiryandongo accident, compared to similar such incidents that have claimed more or an equal number of people.