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Bus companies on a mission to kill us

Isa Senkumba

Bus companies on a mission to kill us

It is no longer news on hearing that a bus accident has occurred

On 19 August 2014, two people died and several others injured when a Juba bound bus from Kampala collided with a truck at Jebilin, about 90 kilometers  from Juba. The two passengers died on the spot and the many others who were injured were rushed to Juba hospital.  

In June 2011 a bus from the same company collided with another bus in Nimule killing 29 people, and injuring 77. Only months later, another bus from the same company was involved in an accident on the same route killing three people and injuring nine.

 Following the accidents the Ugandan authorities suspended the bus company from operations until it met safety requirements, among others requiring that buses which ply long distances such as from Kampala to Juba should have two drivers who can take turns in driving the bus. Such a step was not taken out of will, but it was prompted by the pressure from the public.  Up to now most bus companies do not comply with those rules.

  The Liberalization of the transport sector was good for individuals who wanted to engage in the transport business, but it also lowered driving standards in the country putting passengers’ lives in danger.  Lack of credible driving schools for buses in Uganda, has contributed to a large number of unqualified and unskilled drivers on the road.

In the past, bus drivers were trained by the Uganda Transport Company (UTC) and the People’s Transport Company (PTC). All buses were operated under UTC, a government transport company that was set up in 1975 by President Idi Amin. At the time the country never had reckless drivers like the ones we have today. The bus drivers are overworked, exhausted and prone to cause accidents. Most of them have not gone through the required training and others have criminal records.

The new Transport Licensing Board (TLB) guidelines require all bus drivers to be trained and registered by the board and the Criminal Investigation Department. Police officers have been deployed to sit on buses driven over long distances to check on overloading and over speeding. Unfortunately all this has not worked.

In December 2012 the bus accident that occurred at Enzeva slope in Arivu Sub County, Arua district involving a GAAGAA company Bus was not attributed to driver’ s carelessness but instead to the bus’ condition. The District traffic officer said that the bus had a mechanical problem.  The bus overturned several times after its shaft broke down and became disjointed leading to the accident.

This means that operators do not check their buses thoroughly before allowing them to travel.

Almost all bus companies have had their licenses withdrawn and released back by the Transport Licensing Board (TLB) after being involved in accidents. But this has not helped as long as more accidents are still occurring and people are losing their lives. The authorities have not done enough. Where else in the world has ‘catch and release’ policy worked? This is just recreational fishing.  

 It is getting evident that Bus companies and transport Authorities are on a mission to finish Ugandan passengers. If this is a false accusation, why don’t you come out of your shells and do something to save passengers’ lives?



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