Kampala-Namanve train is a disaster waiting to happen

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Kampala-Namanve train is a disaster waiting to happen
Passenger train service

Just as we get to MUBS, first stop, hell is let loose. Instead of halting, the train starts to role backwards.

By Xavier Oluk

I boarded a Namanve-bound train last evening at the railway station in Kampala. It's something I have done occasionally, especially in light of the fact that Kampala-Jinja Road has arguably the most sickening traffic jam, and this is perpetual.

For some reason, there is no cure to it. The train is therefore viewed as a mitigator to this jam horror. The train return is therefore a welcome relief, notwithstanding the fact that this time round, it's twice as expensive as the previous time.

Departure time is 7.25pm, uncharacteristically late. Often departure time is7pm. One would notice the delay was to pick as many passengers as the management would 'harvest' at this moment. The wagon I was in was already steaming with human odour.

The engine starts to roar away, but the rattle is disturbing, tagging, nagging, and warbling rails can be felt. Just as we get to MUBS, first stop, hell is let loose. Instead of halting, the train starts to role backwards.

For a while, there is curious silence, then animation, anguish and now real fear of a possible derailment. At this moment the attendants and routine train police are conspicuously absent, hitherto, they were all-over the place inspecting tickets and things like that. Meanwhile, the train is still rolling back, uncontrollably.

Miraculously, the locomotive stops. The initially abdicated staff now re-appear with all forms of explanations. We spent over 45 minutes holed in the MUBS bush. In the congested wagons, it is terribly hot in there, no air rationing, the fans can't turn on, they are indisposed.

We are later told of how one of the locomotive engines malfunctioned and spilt oil on the rails. For some curious reason, two locomotive engines are anchored at front and the rear of the five passenger wagons. We later discover that one engine is defective, and as such, the other extra engine is to complement it.

Can you imagine that reckless experiment on people's lives? Those that ply this route always attest to these disturbing episodes. Nothing is apparently done to address the glaring anomaly.

Anyhow, we arrived with our hearts way out of our bodies. In this country, so many things wait to kill you ,but that train, poorly run, warbling as it snakes to Namanve, will so soon claim scores of lives. And guess what, those public servants, with triple chins, protuding stomachs will address a press conference possibly, somewhere at the Media Centre, promising never to have such a repeat of deaths.

And, the next day, since none of the dead will be a member of the deep state, nor their relatives, but the wretched of this country, it will be business as usual.

That train is a death trap. Unfortunately, nobody cares. It's a hyenas' nation!

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