New Vision (Kampala)

8 January 2013

Uganda: The Journey From Kapchorwa to Bukwo Is Deadly

opinion

After a successful journey from Kampala to Kapchorwa via Mbale, I was certain my journey had ended. had come to investigate the ritual of female genital mutilation.

To my surprise, I was told I had 80km more to reach Bukwo district and that the last pick-up travelling there had just left a few minutes earlier.

I decided to jump on a boda boda to catch up with the pick-up and thank God I got it after a five kilometre ride. The pick-up was full to capacity, and I was told to fix myself. I had to do that or miss the trip to my destination - Bukwo.

After a short distance, I discovered why some people who have been to Bukwo swear never to go back. The road is full off bumps, slopes, hills, rocks and sharp corners. Some places are very narrow, yet the driver drove like he was on a wide road.

Even when he reduced the speed, I felt like he was still moving too fast. We all held on for dear life. We swayed as the driver tried to dodge potholes. At this moment, I committed my life to God in case the vehicle overturned.

At 3:00pm, I began to see some houses in the low lying areas and I later discovered that we had reached Bukwo town. This made me forget the past few hours on the deadly road.

After completing my mission at 8:00am, I was at the stage waiting for a car back to Kapchorwa.

Slippery journey

A truck, loaded with over 50 passengers, stopped and I got on board. Thirty minutes into the drive, it started raining. Some people stopped the truck and decided to go back to Bukwo. We were now only 27 on the truck.

Then all hell broke loose. The truck got stuck. We got off and tried to push it. Others got hoes and spades from the truck and started looking for dry soil to pour on the road to increase the friction.

We had to walk almost half the journey while pushing the truck. After another 30km, the truck began to slip and swerve all over the road and soon, we were off the road. We had to push it again. Up to 7:00pm, we were still pushing.

The driver was not willing to continue the journey as, he claimed, the road ahead was worse. As we were preparing to sleep on the truck for the night, one of the villagers offered us room in his hut to sleep.

People began to curse the Government. They wished the First Lady, Janet Museveni, had used the road the last time she was in the area to launch the new radio station.

"She used a helicopter. I wonder what is more important- repairing the road or setting up a radio station?" one resident asked. At 4:00am, it started raining again, worsening an already bad situation.

The driver was not willing to make the rest of the treacherous journey until the road had dried. So, a few of us decided to walk.

We walked for over 17km. just as I was about to give up, a boda boda came by from Bukwo. I decided to use it even with the hefty sh25,000 the rider was asking for.

More terror

We rode for 10km and for the remaining 22km-journey, we walked because it was too slippery for the boda boda to ride. At 3:00pm, I was finally in Kapchorwa.

Everline Chelengat, the Bukwo Woman MP says the district has a lot of wealth, but the bad road has hindered development. When it rains, people have to spend days before their goods get to the markets in Mbale or Kapchorwa.

"This has made people trade in Kenya because it is near. Kitale in Kenya has now become like the main trade centre for Bukwo because it is accessible and traders are sure of good and cheap transport," Chelengat says.

The minster of works and other government officials have visited the place and seen how pathetic the road is, but nothing has yet been done.

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