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Legislators want heavy trucks restricted

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st December 2009 03:00 AM

MEMBERS of Parliament want the ban on the movement of heavy trucks at night reinstated. They also called for the strict enforcement of traffic rules to curb the road carnage.

MEMBERS of Parliament want the ban on the movement of heavy trucks at night reinstated. They also called for the strict enforcement of traffic rules to curb the road carnage.

By Vision Reporters

MEMBERS of Parliament want the ban on the movement of heavy trucks at night reinstated. They also called for the strict enforcement of traffic rules to curb the road carnage.

During a special session of Parliament to pay tribute to the late Budiope MP, Henry Balikoowa, 40, the MPs decried the poor state of the roads and the dangerous mechanical condition of many vehicles.

The legislators also blamed political interference in the enforcement of road safety rules, causing impunity, death and destruction.

Balikoowa was driving back to Kampala on Sunday when his car collided with a sugar cane tractor belonging to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda (SCOUL) on the Jinja-Kampala road. He died on the spot while his car was reduced to a mangled piece of metal.

After the requiem mass at Christ the King Church in Kampala, Balikoowa’s body lay in state at the Parliament foyer. His contributions in the House were played on loud speakers as colleagues, relatives and friends paid their last respects and signed a condolence book.

MPs stood to attention as pall bearers rolled his casket into the chambers in the afternoon. The Police brass band played a dirge and one stanza of the national anthem.

The Speaker, his deputy, the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and leaders of the various caucuses in Parliament laid wreaths on the casket. His widow, Margaret Kagoda, and the eight orphaned children attended the parliamentary session.

A motion in Parliament to recognise the late MP was adopted unanimously. The Prime Minister, Apolo Nsibambi, said the Police and Lugazi-based SCOUL management had agreed to restrict the movement of sugarcane trucks on the highway to day time.

“Emmanuel Mamba, the driver of the tractor, violated that position. The Police have arrested Mamba, who was driving in a reckless manner. He will be charged in court,” Nsibambi noted.

The Prime Minister further observed that the Government was concerned about the road carnage. He said Police reports show 80% of the accidents are caused by speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, driver fatigue, especially for buses and lorries, the use of mobile phones while driving, overloading and bad roads.

The opposition chief whip, Kassiano Wadri, observed that traffic rules were not being followed. Giving the example of trucks that ferry sugarcane from plantations on Jinja highway, Wadri said drivers were reckless while vehicles lack head lamps and reflectors.

He reminded the House that during former President Idi Amin’s regime, heavy vehicles were banned from travelling at night.

However, security minister Amama Mbabazi later reacted, saying during Amin’s time people didn’t travel at night because of fear, not because of the ban. The NRM Secretary General further noted that accidents occur on both bad and good roads. He praised Balikoowa as an ardent supporter of the ruling NRM party.

State minister for works, John Byabagambi, admitted that the Mabira stretch of the highway was in bad condition. He informed MPs that a contractor had been hired to reconstruct the road.

Internal Affairs Minister Kirunda Kivenjinja presented a preliminary Police report which blames the tractor driver for recklessness.

FDC Abdu Katuntu said Balikowa believed in clean politics. He added that it was unfortunate that he died in a nasty accident. “He always talked of potholes and died because of potholes.”

Meddie Mulumba (NRM) wanted the Prime Minister to explain how the one trillion shillings allocated to road construction in the previous two budgets was used. Rose Akol (NRM) described the sugarcane tractors as death traps that should be removed from the roads.

Beatrice Anywar (FDC) proposed that SCOUL offers scholarships to the orphans as a way of helping the family cope with the loss.

Abraham Byandala (NRM), who had moved the motion, said road safety in Uganda was pathetic. He noted that roads have curves, bad surface and bear no signs. The Police, he added, should clamp down on vehicles in dangerous mechanical condition.

Both the Government and the Opposition praised the late MP, describing him as a diligent and valuable legislator and an honest nationalist who spoke without fear on pertinent national issues.

Balikoowa went to Mukono and Kidera primary schools. He later studied at Kiira Academy, Nakawa College of Business Studies and Makerere University.

His body was driven in a hearse and convoy to his home in Budiope County in Kamuli district. Burial is scheduled for tomorrow.

Reporting by Henry Mukasa, Mary Karugaba and Jude Kafuuma and Madinah Tebajjukira

Legislators want heavy trucks restricted

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