Two soldiers were severely injured when a UPDF truck rammed into a passenger train in Kireka, a Kampala City suburb.
The injured, according to witnesses, lost their legs in the accident as people struggled to rescue them from the wreckage.
“There were four soldiers in the truck but two jumped off,’’ a witness said yesterday. Brig Flavia Byekwaso, the UPDF spokesperson, told Daily Monitor that the two soldiers were admitted to Nakasero Hospital.
She refuted claims that the soldiers were running away from a group of boda boda riders, who were pursuing them for allegedly knocking one of their colleagues dead.
Kampala Metropolitan deputy spokesperson Luke Oweyesigire identified the injured survivors as private Jackson Ocatri and David Oromanika. Mr Oweyesigire said police authorities were still investigating the cause of the accident.
Mr Abubaker Ocaki, the chief operations officer from Uganda Railway Corporation (URC), said the passenger train left Namanve Railway Station at 7:15am and arrived in Kireka at 7:30am.
As it approached the railway level crossing, the locomotive handler hooted several times to alert motorists and the level crossing guard also flagged down and stopped all motorists, but the driver of the lead pick-up refused to heed the warning.
Residents around Kireka market tried in vain to pull out the accident victims until 10am when police arrived and rescued them from the wreckage.
Many residents this newspaper spoke to blamed the driver of the UPDF vehicle.
Tina Nansikombi, car spareparts dealer
“The train over hooted and other motorists stopped on either sides of the road, but the driver of the pickup thought he could cross the railway line before the train approaches.’’
James Salasamba, Food vendor
“There was a man from the Uganda Railways who was stopping vehicles from crossing, he tried to stop the UPDF pickup, but the driver refused and he knocked the train.’’
David Mugolwa, boda boda rider.
“The vehicle had two passengers by the time of the accident. Before, all other vehicles had stopped to allow the train pass, but the driver of the pick-up rushed.’’
John Natasi, tent maker.
“Boda boda riders were chasing the pickup claiming it had knocked someone from Bweyogerere, a suburb in Wakiso District. That is how the driver ended up knocking the train.’’
Stephen Isaac, Opule Market vendor
“The pick-up knocked a boda boda rider in Bweyogerere and the driver died on spot. The driver of the pickup was trying to speed away, but he did not know the train was passing.’’
Sande Kiyingi, porter
“Whenever the train is approaching the level crossing, it hoots to alert people near the railway line and those who do not heed have suffered its wrath, it passes here every day at 7.30am.’’
Jordan Mutetyebwa, hawker
“The train leaves Namanve at 7.15am and arrives here at 7.30am, the guard stopped all vehicles after raising a red flag, but the pick-up driver just came and knocked the train.’’