Sipi Regional Police spokesperson, Rogers Taitika says the victims were returning from a three-day visit at Sipi.
Traffic Police officers at the scene of the accident. Courtesy photo
At least 19 people were confirmed dead and several others injured, following a bus accident in Kapchorwa district, eastern Uganda. The accident reportedly took place about 17km from Kapchorwa town at Sipi corner, Towei Hill.
The place is a notorious blackspot that has seen many fatal accidents. Police spokesperson Emillian Kayima said last evening that the victims are believed to be staff of an NGO, the National League of USA, based in Kiryandongo district.
Earlier reports had indicated they were students of Kiryandongo Technical Institute. But Kayima explained that preliminary investigations showed the victims had only travelled in a bus belonging to the institute.
They reportedly travelled to Mbale for an end-of-year party. The accident occurred at about 5:30pm. While Police sources put the death toll at 19, an unofficial reports said 37 people who included a big number of them women perished.
The eyewitness said there were over 50 passengers in the bus and only five survived without any injuries. Winston Katushabe, the commissioner for transport regulation and safety, confirmed the accident in a separate interview with New Vision.
"The preliminary information we have indicates that the driver of the bus failed to negotiate a bend and the bus overturned and 19 people died on the spot," Katushabe said. Blackspot In 2007, over 70 UPDF soldiers and members of their families were killed in an accident in the same area.
In July last year, five people were killed when a truck that was carrying their construction materials rolled downhill at a blackspot in Towei. In May, at least 23 passengers perished when a Gaagaa bus, registration number UAK 562L, collided with a tractor, registration number UAU 872M, and a trailer loaded with crates of beer.
The accident happened at Nanda village, in Nyamasha parish, Mutunda sub-county, Kiryandongo district when the bus reportedly hit the tractor before it rolled and collided with the oncoming lorry.
Two weeks earlier, three people had died on the spot, while two others sustained injuries in a bus accident that occurred on the Kampala-Hoima highway. Uganda has a high rate of road accidents which claim an average of 3,500 people annually and leave 12,000 more with injuries.
The motor accidents are exceptionally common during the Christmas and New Year season. On average, Uganda loses 10 people every day in road accidents, the highest in East Africa, according to a 2018 UN road safety report on Uganda.
Road accidents are estimated to cost Uganda $1.2b (about sh4.4 trillion) every year. Recently, Cabinet approved the Road Safety Amendment Bill 2018, which seeks to strengthen the management of road transport and road safety with a raft of stringent measures.
About Sipi Falls
The authoritative international travel guide publication, Lonely Planet, describes Sipi Falls, found in the foothills of Mt Elgon, as "a stunner - arguably the most beautiful waterfalls in Uganda".
"There are three falls separated by steep hillsides. Though the upper two are beautiful, it is the 95m main drop that attracts the crowds and most lodgings look out on to it. The view of the wide plains disappearing into the distance below is also spectacular."
"It is well worth spending a night or two in this peacefully magnificent place, which also allows one time to enjoy some of the excellent walks in the area, including the show-stopping descent to the bottom of the falls."