Several people gathered at the accident scene after the army vehicle collided with a train, forcing it to derail on September 16. PHOTO/STEPHEN OTAGE
By STEPHEN OTAGE & DAVID VOSH AJUNA
Four Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers Thursday survived death after an army lead-car they were travelling in was smashed by a commuter train at a level crossing at about 7:19am in Kireka, Kampala.
The vehicle is attached to the convoy of the deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt Gen Peter Elwelu.
Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) head of operations, Abuberkerer Ochaki said ‘‘the train which was carrying over 70 passengers from Namanve in Wakiso District to Kampala, collided with the UPDF vehicle after its driver ignored endless hooting from the train amidst red-flag warnings from the railway level crossing guard.’’
Locals claim the accident followed attempts to flee by the soldiers in a UPDF Land cruiser H4DF 2180 after it knocked dead- an unidentified city ‘boda-boda’ rider that was transporting a woman who obtained severe injuries in Bweyogerere.
First, eye witness and area resident Tina Nansikumbi says, the speeding servicemen nearly knocked a traffic officer in Kireka as they allegedly fled pursuant angry boda-boda riders following the earlier fatal incident.
‘‘They (soldiers) hoped they would traverse the level crossing before the train passed but it (train) hooked the bull bars of the car, dragging the pickup on the rails.’’ Advertisement
According to Nansikumbi, ‘‘two soldiers who occupied the bench seats in the back of the pickup truck jumped off, sustained injuries and then certainly vanished as the car got involved in the accident.’’
For over one hour, civilians and the police department of fire and rescue mounted operations to disentangle from wreckage- the bleeding pair of soldiers in the driver’s cabin with their legs nearly cut off.
‘‘The fire and rescue services was able to rescue two UPDF soldiers albeit, in very critical condition. The two, both privates, have been taken for treatment,’’ police said in a statement.
UPDF deputy spokesperson, Lt Col Ronald Kakurungu Thursday afternoon confirmed this development informing that the victims are at Nakasero Hospital in Kampala.
Another eyewitness who preferred anonymity noted that the ‘‘four passengers narrowly survived death because the train was slowing down towards a railway station near Kireka market to offload some commuters.’’
UPDF deputy spokesperson, Lt Col Ronald Kakurungu Thursday told Daily Monitor that the allegations of the national army’s vehicle killing a ‘boda-boda’ rider were reported to the forces.
‘‘We are still investigating those reports and we shall give details,’’ he said in a telephone interview.
However, he said no fatalities were recorded from the accident involving the train with the situation now contained and normal traffic flow restored, by press time.