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24 passengers killed in two bus accidents

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th May 2009 03:00 AM

It was a black day for road travellers yesterday as 24 perished in two separate accidents involving Ugandan buses.

It was a black day for road travellers yesterday as 24 perished in two separate accidents involving Ugandan buses.

By George Bita and
Chris Ocowun

in Gulu

It was a black day for road travellers yesterday as 24 perished in two separate accidents involving Ugandan buses.

A speeding bus collided head-on with an omnibus on the Tirinyi highway in Iganga in the early morning hours, killing 13 people and injuring 22.

Another bus travelling from Juba in Southern Sudan to Kampala overturned about 100km from the Ugandan border, killing 11 traders – both Ugandan and Sudanese – and injuring dozens of others.

The Iganga accident took place in Butongole village, Namalemba sub-county, an area notorious for motor accidents.

By the time The New Vision reached the scene shortly after 7:30am, human tissue was scattered on the tarmac as the Police and well-wishers lifted the dead and injured from the wreckage.

Women wept as the blood-stained bodies were moved into an ambulance and taken to Iganga Hospital.

Elijah Elwana, a resident of Butongole, said the bus, which was travelling from Kapchorwa to Kampala, had attempted to overtake a Tata lorry loaded with molasses.

“The omnibus was travelling from Jinja to Mbale. When the bus driver crossed into his lane, the taxi driver tried to give way. But it was too late and deafening screams filled the air,” Elwana said.

One passenger on the bus died instantly while all 12 passengers in the omnibus taxi perished. There were seven women among the dead.

Christopher Kubai, the eastern region Police commander, identified the dead passenger on the bus as Christopher Ziraba, a worker with Umeme in Iganga, and the dead taxi driver as Peter Mwigo, a resident of Walukuba estate in Jinja town.

Among the passengers killed were Andrew Okoth, a trader from Nagongera in Tororo district, Awori Olere, a businesswoman also from Nagongera, Shamim Namboozo from Kayunga and Malinzi of Wanyange village in Jinja.

“The information I have is that 12 are dead; one from the bus and 11 from the omnibus. More data will come in when we get to Iganga hospital,” Kubai said. Later 13 bodies were found in the mortuary of Iganga Hospital.

The identification process was hampered by the fact that the Police arrived at the accident scene hours later after locals had looted most of the passengers’ belongings.

Some of the 22 injured, who received treatment at Iganga Hospital, included Martha Cherop, a student of Mbale Progressive S.S., Ben Okumu, Joseph Kirago, Kenolias Okello and David Osinde.

At around 9:00am a truck towed away the wreckage of the omnibus but failed to remove the bus that lay on its side on one lane of the road.

Meanwhile, there was a sombre mood at Iganga Hospital as the dead were being ferried into the mortuary and the staff were overwhelmed by the number of wounded.

The floors of both the male and female wards were filled with injured people who were writhing in pain as sympathisers watched from afar.

Joseph Kilagoi, a Policeman attached to Kapchorwa Police station who survived the accident, said most passengers on the bus were asleep when the collision happened.

“We left Kapchorwa at 2:00am. I just heard a bang and woke up to find the bus racing on two wheels before it fell over,” Kilagoi said.

It is the second accident involving a Gateway bus in less than one week. On Thursday, a bus, which was driving on the right hand side of the Mbarara-Kabale highway, knocked a pick-up, killing six people and injuring eight.

The Government has asked the Police to expedite the investigations into the two accidents and prosecute the offenders, according to a statement issued yesterday by works and transport state minister Simon Ejua.

In addition, the ministry and the Police will “carry out a joint inspection of all Gateway buses to confirm their roadworthiness and suitability to carry passengers.”

Apart from checking the buses, all Gateway drivers will be vetted to certify the validity of their driving permits as well as their driving competences.

The Police and the ministry will also jointly review the Gateway time tables and route charts to confirm their compliance with the operator’s licence.

The second accident happened later in the morning at Kit-II valley in Southern Sudan, about 100km from the border town of Nimule.

According to the UPDF commander at the border, Lt. Col. John Waiswa, the driver of Ugandan Grace Coaches bus apparently lost control. The bus overturned as it negotiated a corner at Kit-II valley. He attributed the accident to speeding.

“The number of those injured has not yet been established but many of them were rushed to Nimule Hospital by Kenyan road construction workers,” he stated.

According to Waiswa, the majority of the dead were Ugandan traders returning from Juba, adding that their bodies had also been taken to Nimule Hospital.

According to the northern region Police commander, PK Arinaitwe, the bus driver also perished in the accident.

He said the Ugandan Police could not visit the scene because it was in a foreign country, and therefore could not easily identify the dead and wounded.

24 passengers killed in two bus accidents

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