The Lubaga road roundabout in Kampala, which is the intersection for Nabunya and Kivebulaya streets, has become a death trap whose dangers have unfortunately been ignored by authorities.
Over the past year, an unofficial total of about 12 people lost their lives at this particular spot, according to eyewitnesses and boda boda riders. James Kawooya, a cyclist at the intersection, remembers how in early April 2017 a fuel tanker speeding downhill along the Nabunya stretch rammed into their stage, killing one of his colleagues.
The place is yet again in the spotlight. Last Friday, March 10, a traffic policeman attached to Old Kampala police station was crashed to death by a bus belonging to Devine Bus Company.
Cpl Wilfred Tweituk, 54, is survived by two widows and 16 children. He was laid to rest at his ancestral home in Kapchorwa municipality, eastern Uganda. But the bus driver remains on the run although the vehicle was impounded and is parked at Old Kampala police station.
Eyewitnesses interviewed yesterday said Tweituk wasn’t deployed at the Lubaga roundabout by the time of his death.
“He was up there at the next roundabout but he saw two vehicles had knocked each other down here and he came to help. It took about 20 minutes to solve the issues between the two drivers and by the time they were done, the whole place was full of traffic jam,” Hassan Kyeyune, another boda boda rider, said.
Tweituk then decided to first clear the traffic before heading back to where he was stationed. He held the vehicles coming from Nabunya road.
When he released them, while still standing almost in the middle of the junction, eyewitnesses said, a Tuk Tuk from the city centre closed in on him, and as he tried to get out of its way, he landed in front of the bus.
“We don’t think the bus driver saw him at this point because he had just released the cars. The [bull bar] guard of the bus hit him and he fell down. His head was crushed. We kept shouting at the driver that he was killing someone but he didn’t hear,” Kyeyune said.
Traffic police director, Dr Stephen Kasiima, told The Observer yesterday that he didn’t know whether police compensates families of its personnel who die in line of duty and referred us to the Human Resource directorate.
“We have lost many officers in line of duty but I am not sure whether they were compensated or not. For this case, we are simply looking for the driver and maybe the family of the dead officer can then open up a civil case against the bus company,” Kasiima said.
On the safety of the traffic officers on the road, he said all the police can do is to educate its officers about personal safety.
“We tell them to keep their lives safe before anything else since we can’t just withdraw them from the roads. But there are many other threats to the lives of these officers away from accidents like people who could deliberately harm them,” Kasiima said.
In some situations, traffic officers are given armed colleagues to offer protection. As The Observer headed to the black spot on this assignment, most boda boda riders told us that “…place is very dangerous.”
Some followed the statement with a story of someone they knew who was knocked dead there or a speeding car that crashed. Kawooya said when their colleague was knocked dead by the fuel tanker, they mobilised and headed to the offices of the division mayor, Joyce Nabbosa Sebugwawo, to demand for action but were not helped.
“We need humps on Nabunya road and Kivebulaya road towards the junction. This will reduce the speeding and knocking-down of people. If they don’t want humps, let them put up traffic lights,” he said.
Traffic lights will curb the indiscipline and impatience of drivers, he suggested.
“At this junction, everyone thinks they have right of way, they want to go first and on many occasions they knock one another. The place also has no traffic officers. They only come maybe in case he is riding by and finds jam, he stops to clear it and he continues,” Kawooya said.