By Mary Karugaba
Officials from the works ministry had a hard time explaining the deaths of the three people; Norbert Tizikara, Carol Aturinda and Ann Kabaaya, who died on Sunday morning, July10, when their car crashed at the Nakawa level crossing in Kampala.
The team, led by transport state minister Fred Byamukama, had appeared before the Government Assurance and Implementation Committee to respond to issues in relation to promises made by President Yoweri Museveni to rehabilitate the Standard Gauge Railway.
However, the MPs used the opportunity to question the Uganda Railway Corporation (URC) team over its failure to ensure safety at railway level crossings.
Committee chairperson Joseph Ssewungu noted that although trains take priority at the level crossings, safety is paramount and it was only proper to deploy crossing keepers responsible for managing every level crossing as trains approach.
“Safety is safety – you are supposed to close the road every time the train is passing, and that was negligence on your side,” he said in reference to the Sunday accident.
Connie Galiwango, the Mbale City MP, asked the ministry if there was adequate staff to operate the level crossings and appreciated other countries with best practices like alert messages being elaborately displayed to caution road users about approaching trains.
The minister pledged that the Government would ensure safety at the level crossings by erecting larger distinct signage, employing people to secure the area and also installing more barricades to control cars from crossing the lines when trains are approaching.
“We feel the pain and we assure Ugandans that we shall improve on the safety and cautions along the line. But Ugandans also need to take caution along the railway line,” he said.
In 2021, a similar accident occurred when a vehicle transporting military personnel was hit by a train in Kireka, a Kampala suburb.