Rift Valley Railways has denied responsibility for the accident
Wheat worth $90,000 (about sh305m) that was destined for Uganda has been looted after a train carrying two containers of wheat grains veered off the rails at Kibarani, Mombasa on Sunday.
Looters, among them minors, descended on grains of wheat after a cargo train was derailed, The Star online reported. The looted wheat was reportedly in some two containers - belonging to Grain Bulk Handlers Limited (GBHL).
The train nearly plunged into the Indian Ocean and the captains jumped out when the locomotive became difficult to control. Residents said Kibarani was slowly turning into a black spot - owing to the sorry situation of the railway lines in the area.
Samson Ondego of GBHL blamed the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) for the fault. He said the lines have not been maintained for a long time.
"We are very upset at losing millions cargo to the sea. It is the fault of RVR for not maintaining the rails for a long time," Ondego was quoted as saying.
When contacted, the RVR Uganda communications and marketing manager, Darlington Muwonge, referred New Vision to the RVR Uganda general manager for North Western, Joram Nyanzi.
Nyanzi said trip Locomotive number 9309 which left Mombasa for Changamwe with 12 loaded wagons of approximately 782 tons at 23.35 hours capsized nine wagons at Makupa. He clarified that the cargo belonged to several clients including GBHL.
He, however, noted that the cause of the accident was still being investigated. Nyanzi said damage to the track was ruled out as RVR was able to check the line the same day and confirmed that it was in good condition.
Nyanzi dismissed as untrue Ondego’s claims that RVR was to blame for the accident because ‘the lines had not been maintained for a long time.
“As explained above we were able to check the line same day which shows that actually the track is in good working condition. The RVR Operations Safety Task force team was deployed yesterday to investigate and find out the root cause of the accident. We will share the findings with you when they come out,” he explained.
Asked whether RVR would compensate the wheat owners since the cargo was looted after the accident, Nyanzi stated; “Our Insurance Claims processes are very clear and our Clients will of course follow them so that whatever is not recovered is compensated for. Otherwise, we regret the inconvenience this accident has caused our Clients but as already communicated to them we will ensure that we expedite the recovery and safe delivery of the rest of their cargo.”
He observed that the railway line was in operational condition, and that what was remaining was the recovery of the wagons and cargo so that operations go back to normal.
Fishermen in Kibarani said they heard a loud bang and realized that it was a train which almost plunged into the sea during the 6am incident. Halima Kistao, a fish monger, said she was very lucky to have secured some of the grains.
She made fun that her family would go for many days without buying food and that she would be happier if another train cargo with either cooking oil or maize flour plunges again.
"I’m very happy with my children. Today we will celebrate. In fact, it will take me months before going to the shops. Prices of commodities are very high and inflated. We pray for another accident to occur," she was quoted as saying.