Yesterday’s motor accident outside Masaka Town abruptly shattered the blooming dreams of three teenagers, snatched the enterprising lives of three youth and claimed a septuagenarian.
Two others died at 36 and 49, a prime age of productivity and providence to family and society.
The other, identified as Lydia Nakabuubi died Thursday night.
The driver of the ill-fated taxi, which was mangled by impact when it smashed into a trailer police said was overtaking at a blind spot, was named as 49-year-old Deo Kwese, aka Moses Magero.
The grisly incident that involved two vehicles –a commuter taxi, Reg No UBC 995C and a trailer, Reg No T433BDY/T877DWZ, occurred at Kassijjagirwa Village near Gaz Petrol Station on the outskirts of Masaka City, at around 7:30am.
The accident scene is one of the gazetted blackspots in the area, according to police.
First, was a deafening crash heard from a distance, according to one witness, followed by a moment of silence in the early morning downpour.
The loud bang attracted crowds, who rushed to the scene, with the hope of rescuing some survivors, but this did not happen as majority had died.
Some personal items such as shoes, bags, sweaters, wallets and keys, among others, lay scattered all over.
According to some witnesses, the accident occurred when a speeding Mbarara bound bus overtook the trailer, forcing the driver of the trailer to ram into an oncoming taxi.
The trailer driver then swerved off the highway and plunged into a nearby valley.
By 9:30am when Daily Monitor arrived at the scene, the mangled taxi lay by the roadside.
Some relatives and friends of the deceased who rushed to the scene watched from a distance in despair.
It was a trying moment as people tried to recognise their loved ones.
Bodies of some of the victims were picked from the drainage as Red Cross volunteers, police and residents cut through the wreckage to retrieve some of the trapped victims.
The body of the taxi driver, Kwese, a resident of Mateete Village, Sembabule District, was among six bodies still trapped in the wreckage.
Of the 14 deceased, seven were men, five women and two juveniles.
“The crash occurred during an early morning downpour, which frustrated our efforts to save the victims, we tried our best but we could not do much,” Mr Sam Kizito, a resident of Kassijjagirwa Village, said.
Mr Sulait Mukiibi, a boda boda rider at Kijjabwemi, a Masaka City suburb, said he heard a loud bang about 300 metres away, a few minutes after bypassing the spot where the accident occurred.
“I knew that something tragic had occurred, I rode back, only to find shattered glasses and a strange whirring of a vehicle engine. Victims were crying for help, but some had already died,” he said
Southern regional traffic police commander Godfrey Mwesige gave a different version of how the accident happened. According to Mr Mwesige, it was the trailer that was trying to overtake the bus.
“It is true there were many people in the taxi, but we are still gathering information, some victims could have been riding on boda boda; others could have been in the trailer,” he said.
He blamed the accident on human error by the driver of the trailer.
Mr Mwesigye’s assertions were corroborated by Mr Salim Ssekidde, a witness. “It is the driver of the trailer who caused the accident. He tried to overtake a speeding bus in a blind corner yet the taxi was also coming from the opposite direction,” Mr Ssekidde said.
The driver of the trailer and another unidentified person, who sustained injuries, are the only survivors of the carnage. Both were still admitted to Masaka Regional Referral Hospital by press time, according to Mr Muhammad Nsubuga, the Southern regional police spokesperson.
“It is still very difficult to identify majority of the deceased persons because they did not have identification documents. We have publicised this accident in Sembabule, where we presume majority of them came from, so that relatives can come to the mortuary at Masaka hospital and help us identify the dead,” Mr Nsubuga said.
Uganda is one of the African countries with the highest rate of road accidents, according to the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013.
A 2019 survey by Makerere University School of Public Health revealed that about 9,000 people perish in road accidents annually in Uganda, a number three times higher than that declared by the police.
According to 2020 police annual Crime and Traffic/Road Safety report, on average at least 10 people die in Uganda every day due to road accidents .The report says a total of 1,146 motorcyclists were killed in motor accidents last year compared to the 1,064 killed in 2019 . On a general note, the report says 3,269 accidents were fatal 5,803 were serious and 3,177 were minor.
February 2, 2021. 10 people died and more than 33 were critically injured in an accident at Kanyansi between Hima and Rugendabara on Kasese- Fort Portal road.
March 8, 2021. Five people died and five others sustained grievous injuries in a motor accident at Wamatovu-Nakirebe Village in Mpigi District on Kampala-Masaka highway
March 12, 2021. Three people were killed and 22 others critically injured in a motor accident at Kyankonwa Village in Nakasongola District on Kampala- Gulu highway when a bus rammed into a trailer.
Baker Mwanje Mateete,Sembabule
Anita Natasha Mateete,Sembabule
Mayimina Nankya Kasambya,Sembabule
Shadia Nakalule Kasambya,Sembabule
Mayimuna Nakito Kasambya,Sembabule
Sarah Mutusa Mateete,Sembabule
Salim Ssekandi Manyama, Sembabule
Moses Musasizi Mateete,Sembabule
Deo Kwese Kasaana,Sembabule
Francis Kateete Mateete, Sembabule
Bernard Kisawuzi Manyama, Sembabule
Francis Ngalambe Buyoga, Sembabule