It has been a rather tragic couple of weeks in Uganda, from fire, to water, then racing cars ramming into crowds.
Should we wonder what is happening?
The most catastrophic so far being the recent capsized boat on Lake Victoria on Saturday 24th where over 32 people perished and more are still missing.
A friend of mine made a damning assumption that perhaps the gods choose to kill more as the year winds up.
Over 10 kids perished in a school fire. It was reported that clues that led to this unfortunate occurrence were ignored.
Maybe the inferno could have been avoided. Schools to this day have failed to adopt the minimum standards for fire prevention and safety.
The authorities have also increasingly relaxed on enforcement.
You would expect all vessels on a lake as big and important as Victoria to be fully inspected and monitored especially after the incident in Tanzania recently where MV Nyerere capsized killing over 200 people on this same lake.
The government should have learnt from this to put in place measures to avoid the same happening here. It has been said that the boat wasn’t licensed and on top of that, it was in no worthy mechanical state.
As if this wasn’t enough, the time of departure was a weird and risky one especially for an overloaded boat in an appalling condition.
What hit the last nail in the coffin was the fact that over 80% of the passengers had no life jackets at the time of the wreck and all this made the fatalities inevitable.
Had the boat management valued everyone’s life and provided a life jacket for all perhaps the story would have been different. Had the boat been inspected for its water worthiness, perhaps there would be no wails today.
It is also reported that some revellers deliberately refused to put on the life jackets whereas the rest, having had a couple of drinks, coupled with the frenzy of the loud music, couldn’t heed any of the captain’s warnings and alarms.
This is a group of people in the middle of the lake, consciousness for everybody should be maximum because anything can go wrong in such a setting.
These fatal events have always happened around this time of the year.
Not because the gods are angry as my friend suggested, but because everyone is excited about the approaching festive season and the approaching new year on the horizon.
As a result we all get animated and get lost in this excitement which in most cases leads to our death. According to Uganda police over 25 people died last year during the festive season.
These were deaths related to such accidents. Most of these died between 22-26th December, but such reckless deaths start happening as early as 25th November, a month to Christmas.
There is no doubt that this is the busiest and presumably the happiest time of the year.
Every party, every concert, every voyage, every road trip, every retreat feels exceptional around this time. And in most of these occasions, death walks near to snatch and grab the reckless ones with their lives.
So as we party and have the fun, let’s be mindful of how dangerous these days are. If we are to drive, let us be sober.
This is not the time to drink and drive, this is not the time to seat in car without a seatbelt, and this is not the time to drive a non-serviced car. Check the tyres, check your engine, and monitor your car lest it will end your life.
For the city dwellers, we are lucky our Boda Boda system has greatly improved.
I would rather we stick to the much safer App based boda boda services so that this way we can always have our helmets on. There are those who will obstinately ignore the passenger helmets hence exposing their lives to death.
For public taxis, it has always been a nightmare especially in the country side where a small saloon car is forced to choke on over 10 people and a 14 seater matatu carries about 25.
This daring should stop. When an overloaded vehicles loses balance, it’s very hard to manage, even when an accident happens, chances of survival are minimal.
Let us stick to the licensed capacities and avoid these fatalities. For those who value their lives, please desist and reject this madness, be responsible!
And to us who use our phones while driving? This is not the time! And never should be the time.
Texting while driving diverts all your attention from the road, be mindful of other road users, respect traffic rules and regulations, read road signs and respect speed limits.
Let’s watch out for fire disasters, ensure all the measures, have a fire extinguisher at least especially in public places.
The authorities should also take note, this is the time to be strict and vigilant like never before. Accepting that bribe may lead to someone losing their life.
Let us do what we are expected to do, be safe and conscious at all times if we are to live to see another year.
The author is a social and political critic.