The ill-fated fuel tanker that caught fire and killed 23 people in Kyambura trading centre in Rubirizi District, had a brake problem, the turn-boy has said. Mr Abdullah Aziz Hassan Gulamu, who was travelling in the vehicle with the driver narrated what happened that afternoon on Sunday, August 18.
“We were coming from Eldoret (in Kenya) going to Butembo (North Kivu) in DR Congo carrying diesel. We got a brake problem. The driver stepped on the brake pad but if failed to work. He stepped on the brake again and the computer alarm sounded a warning,” Mr Gulamu says.
He added, “I told him to do his best but the guy told me he has no option. It was a corner and the road was narrow. The tank got disconnected from the cabin [the part that shelters the driver and turn boy] and fell. It hit taxis and motorcycles, and one compartment caught fire. The cabin also overturned.”
Ms Harriet Nabukenya, the Rubirizi District Resident District Commissioner had earlier said that the driver of the fuel truck lost control.
The tanker burst into flames upon impact, with the fire spreading to shops in the area. Mr Gulamu says he struggled to free himself and run to safety.
“I struggled and got out but my driver was not shaking or speaking. As I came out I saw the second compartment of the tanker also catching fire; it spread to the third one. I ran away to a nearby mosque. After about 30 minutes, I realised I had wounds on my hands, on my legs and buttocks,” he says.
According to him, the tanker was registration number KBT 334 N. “We were carrying 9,000 litres, 3,000 in each compartment. But we did not have a fire extinguisher and first aid box,” Mr Gulamu said.
Mr Gulamu who is from Bombo and is currently admitted at Kampala International University Teaching Hospital in Bushenyi is nursing severe burns and says the owner of the car is a Somali who had four tankers but now has three after the one he was on, got burnt during the accident. He says the driver did not survive.
On Tuesday, the Office of the Prime Minister, through Mary Karooro Okurut, the minister in charge of general duties, delivered relief items for distribution to families affected by the grisly accident. The items included bags of rice, tarpaulin, saucepans, mosquito nets and blankets.