Thursday August 7 2014

I found myself at the bottom of a manhole

Open manholes are turning into death traps.

Open manholes are turning into death traps. PHOTO BY STEPHEN WANDERA 

By Gloria Haguna

Whenever I take a walk around town, I have to watch my step because there are open manholes everywhere. The city sidewalks are full of them. I have got used to them and never notice them save for that one time when the thought of someone falling into them crossed my mind. Strangely I was standing next to one as I got ready to cross and I just smiled. Thank God no one fell into the manhole that day.
I actually had not thought much about manholes until last weekend when it sank in, that these manholes are actually death traps. One could seriously get hurt if they took that fall. And it’s about time that the city authority looked into the aspect of sealing them.
Probably I will need to report to relevant authorities. But even as this thought crossed my mind, there was little I could do about it because I was at the bottom of one.
Yes, fate denied me the chance of witnessing a person fall into a manhole and instead it was me with bruises all over my knees because I was now in the one place I had never envisioned myself. I certainly was not laughing.
What had started out as a beautiful day, catching up with friends, was now ruined.
How did I end up in the manhole, I was in a good mood crossing the road to jump on a boda boda home. When I saw my regular boda boda rider, I rushed to him and we negotiated the fee. He allowed to drop me off in Wandegeya at Shs2,000.
In the process of getting ready to sit on the motorcycle, I must have missed a step because the next thing was slipping into the manhole.
My knee must have borne the brunt of the fall because I felt like someone had poked a thousand needles in it all at once. The rest of my leg was numb.
Thankfully, a handful of security men at the MTN headquarters came to my aid, and gave me some first aid. Thereafter, I was rushed to a clinic, by two friends who I had managed to call while in the pit.
A few days of limping later, and I am back on my feet. I was in too much pain to even feel embarrassed.
I imagine there might have been some people who saw the mirth in it. Thank God the place was poorly lit, though it is the reason I did not see the ditch and fell in in the first place.
I am not blind to the improvements this city has seen in recent times. However, I refuse to be impressed until every gaping gutter in this city is covered up.
I may have lived through it, but what if a little child was the victim that day? We need safe sidewalks and at least lights, if for whatever reason, a manhole or drain must remain open.
Last but not least, a big thank you to the kind gentlemen at that gate and my friends who came to my rescue.
As for those responsible for keeping the manholes covered, I am in talks with my lawyer. Be very worried!