On the December 8, 2015 members of the Uganda Cranes team that had just won the 14th edition of the East and Central Africa Challenge Cup in Ethiopia were involved in a motor accident at Jami Trading Centre in Budaka District on the Mbale-Tirinyi road.
The team had been on their way back from Soroti State Lodge where they had gone to celebrate their victory with President Museveni.
A day earlier the same team had been hosted to a State Dinner presided over by the Vice President, Mr Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, at State House Entebbe.
The accident occurred when the Uganda Cranes team bus registration number No UG 2236E collided with an omnibus registration number UAT 573.
A vehicle inspection report issued on December 19, 2015 by Inspector of Police, James Okumu Neema, indicated that the Cranes bus had not been road worthy at the time.
“In my opinion the above mentioned bus was in a dangerous mechanical condition and unfit for road use,” Mr Okumu wrote at the time.
The police was at the same time quick to suggest that the accident could have been a result of reckless driving, claiming that the driver was speeding, but eye witness accounts suggested that one of the team bus’ tyres had burst, causing the driver to lose control of it. Whatever the cause, the accident left seven people dead while eight escaped, but with serious injuries.
The dead were identified as Samuel Kakungulu, 34, a resident of Mawuge who was the driver of the ill-fated omnibus, Zahab Nakisiyi, 20, a resident of Kifiriro Village in Mbale District, Charles Mwima, 30, a resident of Lyama-Bulangira in Budaka District. The rest were identified as Junior Namonyo, 7, a resident of Bunandalo in Sironko District,
Proscovia Nakaima, 28, a resident of Kajoko village in Kibuku District and her one-year-old daughter, Rehema Bulange.
Those who suffered injuries were Ali Muwoya, 25 a resident of Bunyekero village in Budaka District, Juma Kibowe, 35, a resident of Kajoko village in Kibuku District, Wilson Kirya, 22, a resident of Kofolo village in Kibuku Districtand Tomasi Taliwo, 38 a resident of Molokochomo in Kibuku.
Others were Yunusu Muyimbwa, 26 a resident of kasosoko village, Kireka in Kampala, Wabwire Walter, 28, a resident of Nabweyo village in Budaka, Simon Nabendeh, 35, a resident of Bunandalo village in Sironko District, and Muhammad Tagoya, 19 a resident of Jami village in Budaka District.
The injured were Cranes’ players Denis Okot, Hassan Wasswa and Hezron Kizito and the Communications Manager of the Federation of Uganda Footballs Associations, Mr Ahmed Hussein.
Slightly more than three years after the accident occurred, on January 2 this year, President Museveni and the First Lady, who is also the Minister for Education and Sports, Ms Janet Museveni, cohosted the Cranes, the She Cranes and the members of the national Athletics’ team at their country home in Rwakitura where he announced that families of the victims of the accident were to be compensated for the losses they had suffered.
“The accident victims will receive Shs1 billion as compensation,” Mr Museveni announced.
The President did not give reveal details of how the money would be distributed to the said families. He, however, said the money would be forwarded to FUFA, which would in turn look out for the families of all those who were affected and pass on the compensation packages.
This was however not the first time the Mr Museveni talked of compensating the owner of the ill-fated taxi, those who suffered injuries and the families of the dead.
He had reportedly first made the promise during an interface with local NRM leaders in Bugweri Sub-region before making a public announcement about the matter during a rally that was held in Kabweri Sub-county on December 17, 2015.
“I was told most of the people killed were residents of this place. I have asked my staff to get contacts of their families so that we see whow to help them,” he said at the rally.
Well, more than 30 months since he first mentioned the matter and slightly more than five since he reiterated the same the promised compensation is yet to come.
As expected some of the survivors and members of the families of those who died during the accident up in arms against both the government and FUFA.
While others accuse President Museveni of being insensitive, insisting that the President’s directives and follow up actions in regard to their proposed compensation have been very lukewarm.
Some believe that the money could have been advanced to FUFA, but that someone within the football governing body could have swindled it.
Mr Jerolam Omach, who claims to be the chief complainant, has since revealed that they have since instituted a suit in the courts of law seeking compensation for lives and income lost.
The biggest impact government’s failure to fulfill its promise in timely manner has had is to whittle down the public’s confidence and trust in the President’s ability to deliver on his promises.
It is true that Mr Museveni does not run around with billions of shillings in his pockets to dole out. There are established systems through which such donations are passed on to beneficiaries and while there are sections of the population who believe that the money has never been passed on to FUFA for onward transmission to them there is also another group that thinks that money was remitted to FUFA and put to some other use which points
to lack of confidence and trust in the body.
The bigger problem though is that some of those who are all too aware that the money has never been released think that it is on account of insensitivity and application of double standards on the part of those in government especially in light of the swift response to the accident that occurred at Nanda Village in Kiryandongo on the night of May 25.
Twenty two people were killed and scores left nursing very serious injuries following the accident that involved a Gaagaa Bus, a tractor and a truck.
Government responded by donating Shs3million to each of the survivors and another Shs5million to the families of those who perished.w Why should their compensation be taking so long?
Government ought to move fast to bring this matter to a close. As the NRM Chairman for Nabwisa Sub-county in Budaka, Mr Paul Mutakabala, pointed out those who died in the
accident left widows and orphans whose hopes to continue with their education and also create sources of livelihoods after the demise of the families’ bread winners had been pegged on Mr Museveni’s promise to compensate them. This makes it imperative that government moves to resolve this as soon as yesterday.
As government works to pay up, there is an urgent need to move to clear the air on the processes through which such donations are passed on to the beneficiaries.
The mistrust in parts of Budaka is largely on account of both ignorance and misinformation about that. This means that some institutions of government such as the office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) have not been on top of their game as far as following up the matter and relaying such vital information to the public is concerned.
There is need to either retrain RDCs or deploy new people with a different mindset.
The FUFA spokesperson, Mr Ahmed Hussein, has, however, told Daily Monitor that well as Mr Museveni had pledged to advance the money to FUFA to locate and compensate the accident survivors and families of those that had passed on, the money has never been passed on to the football governing body.
“We are in engagement with President Museveni to make sure we get that money. He (Museveni) directed his state house team to process money and compensate the accident victims,” he said.
Mr Hussein called for patience saying the matter is bound to be closed sooner than later.
“It is a matter of time. As the federation we are working tooth and nail to make sure our people are compensated and we solve the matter once and for all. That is why we asked those that had been suing to have this matter resolved out of court,” he said.