It was like a movie scene; a plane crash landing in the middle of a highway. Fortunately, this one did not destroy everything in its wake as it happens in the movies. When the US-chartered plane made an emergency landing on Mityana Road last week, many people thought it would be there for one or two days.
But a week later, the plane is still in Mityana, and there are no signs of it leaving anytime soon.
Meanwhile, in true Ugandan style, the plane’s grounding has become a sensation. A sensation that has attracted people from as far as Mukono just to, in awe, look at the man-made moving object that landed at Kiwawu, which is about 45 kilometres from Kampala city.
When they reach this destination, road users driving towards Mityana Town and beyond stop by the roadside, get out of their cars and take photos of themselves with the plane in the background. Others get to the place using motorcycles.
However, these people can only view the plane at a distance. To secure the plane, several police and army officers have camped at the scene, and will be there till the plane is taken away.. The scene has been cordoned off with white and blue tape. The officers have also joined in the photo taking spree, taking selfies with the plane.
They, too, cannot get very close to the plane. It is only with permission from Maj Ramathan Kayondo, the in-charge of the temporarily established police and military post at the site, that you can get close to the plane though chances of that happening are slim.
“When the plane crash landed here, we came in to offer security so that it’s not vandalised. Some people have asked to take photos inside the plane but we don’t allow them to,” he says. He adds, “if someone has a genuine reason, I allow them to go near the plane, but without a clear reason, I can’t allow anyone to get nearer.”
Making a quick buck
This has not deterred some people from turning this into a business opportunity. “On the day after the plane landed, it was an opportunity for me to come and take express photos of spectators and they would have them in few minutes,” says Frank Ismail, one of the people cashing in on the plane. Ismail is a photographer from Mityana who has been at the scene for a week. He says he has since taken more than 50 photos, worth about Shs200,000.
While he is happy to be making the money, he is fully aware that this is only temporary. “When the plane leaves the place, I’ll resume with normal duties as a mobile photographer,” Ismail says.
A pain for others
While the situation is a chance for people to get a closer look at a plane, it is an inconvenienc for some. Among those inconvenienced are the pupils of St Lawrence Junior Day and Boarding School. When the plane was moved from the main road, it was shifted to the feeder road that leads to the school, which is a few metres from the main road. There is, therefore, no way for cars or motor cycles trying to access the school. On foot, a temporary path has been created in the rough terrain bush.
“Our potato garden was destroyed by spectators who had flocked the place on the day the plane landed. The security personnel (policemen and army) use my school’s toilets and the road leading to the school was also blocked,” says Lawrence Kafuma, the director of the school. He adds, “I heard that the people whose gardens were destroyed are to be compensated. If the authorities concerned are to do so, they should also think of my school.”
While the plane causes a stir in Mityana, there are plans to move it. One plan is to dismantle it and move the parts. The second is for aviation authorities to test the quality of Mityana Road and see whether it is suitable for the plane to take off from there. For now, the plane remains, and as someone joked on Facebook, if you haven’t seen a plane up-close this is your chance, at no extra cost.