Gateway Survivors Recount Ordeal


Story Filed: Friday, November 01, 2002 2:03 PM EST

Kampala, Nov 01, 2002 (New Vision/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- RESCUE workers had to use iron bars to cut through the wreckage to remove bodies after a Gateway bus crashed in Nakuru, Kenya, on Wednesday.

The East African Standard said yesterday the police had to hire a breakdown to tow the bus to the hospital mortuary with bodies trapped inside. Thirteen people died when the luxurious Kampala-Mombasa-bound bus on its maiden trip veered off the road due to speed and hit a tree.

Ten of the dead were Kenyans and three Ugandans.

A Gateway employee in the Mengo booking office in Kampala yesterday said a woman only identified as Uzia died, bringing the number of Ugandans dead to four.

Two people believed to be Ugandans were yesterday still hanging on to dear life in a Kenyan hospital, Kenya police said.

Kenya police spokesman Kinori Mwangi said Edward Tiranindela was yesterday afternoon still unconscious in Nakuru General Hospital. "We suspect that Tiranindela is Ugandan," Mwangi said. He said, "But there is a male adult who was seriously injured and we suspect that he is a Ugandan national. We could not ascertain because his documents were missing."

He said another Ugandan, Jason Balanya, was treated at the hospital and discharged.

The Police said the victims were seated on the right side of the bus. Preliminary police investigations indicate that the slippery tarmac road, compounded by a downpour, could have contributed to the accident.

The Rift Valley Provincial Traffic Enforcement Officer, Festus Randul, said the spot is not necessarily accident prone.

A Kampala businessman, Edward Tibanye Ndere, said the bus started zig-zagging before hitting the tree. Speaking from his hospital bed, Ndere, who suffered head and hand injuries, said he was thrown out of the bus on impact.

"I was seated next to my brother in the bus and up to now I do not know his whereabouts," he added.

Tibanye, who was travelling to Nairobi, told Daily Nation that he was flung out of the bus when it hit the tree.

Co-driver Ahmed was injured in the spinal cord. He said he was asleep when the accident occurred and was shocked when he woke up on his hospital bed.

He was injured in the back and was writhing in pain in Ward 3 at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital.

He said the bus did not have any mechanical problems when it left Kampala on Tuesday.

Randuh said they have identified the victims but would not release the names until their families were informed.

All attempts to get comment from the Gateway Bus Company officials failed as the managing director and his deputy were said to have left for Kenya in the morning. The employees at the Nakivubo Road head offices were tight-lipped.

Mwangi said some managers of the bus company had arrived in Kenya and had travelled to the accident scene, armed with the passenger manifest to help identify the dead and injured.

Relatives jammed the Gateway offices on Wednesday desperate for a word on their loved ones. The travellers had been in high spirits at the flag-off at the Nile Hotel.

by Okello Jabweli

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