The Government Assurance and Implementation Committee has questioned the Uganda Railway Corporation (URC) over its failure to ensure safety at railway crossings.
This follows a gruesome accident in the wee hours of Sunday 10, July 2022 in which a locomotive rammed into a car as its driver attempted to make it across the Nakawa level crossing in Kampala.
Unfortunately, all three passengers in the car perished.
While appearing before the committee chaired by Hon. Joseph Ssewungu, a team from the Ministry of Works and Transport and URC July 14, 2022 was tasked to explain the deaths of the three Ugandans; Norbert Tizikara, Carol Aturinda and Ann Kabaaya.
The team led by State Minister for Transport, Hon. Fred Byamukama, had appeared before the committee to answer to a promise made by President Yoweri Museveni to rehabilitate the Standard Gauge Railway.
According to Hon. Ssewungu, 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.
“What is happening along where all these accidents are taking place? 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.
Hon. 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 work to ensure safety at the level crossings by erecting larger distinct signage, employing people to secure the area and 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.
Last year, a similar accident occurred when a vehicle transporting military personnel was hit by a train in Kireka, a Kampala suburb.