On Tuesday 7th March a couple of friends and I drove to Soroti for the funerals of the father and brother of our dear friend Rosemary Mutyabule. It all went well and we embarked on our return journey. In fact, we left a bit early to avoid too much night time driving.
Our last leg was Jinja-Kampala, a road I’m so familiar with because, not only do I hail from Jinja, there is also a Worship Harvest there. So, I kind of know every curve, climbing lane, where to overtake and where not to because I drive on that road frequently. So, for me this was going to be the most comfortable section to drive even though we left Jinja about 7:30pm, which was after nightfall.
We were doing fair speeds and going well until we encountered what could have been a life altering incident in the tea/sugarcane section after Kitigoma and just before Mabira forest. Now, I’m a fairly considerate driver on the road and always keep my lights dimmed when there is oncoming traffic. In fact, I believe there should be a special place in ___ for people who drive with full lights the whole time – including in their compound! That just puts everyone on the road in danger.
I had just come through the climbing lane in that section with my lights dimmed due to oncoming traffic and suddenly a thought hit me; put on full lights now!
Behold… there it was just meters ahead of us; an extremely slow, almost stationary, fully loaded, sugarcane carrying tractor with no rear lights or even reflectors that belongs to Sugar Corporation Of Uganda Limited (SCOUL)! Remember the guys who wanted a part of the forest to plant sugarcanes, that led to riots led by Betty Anywar – aka Maama Mabira? Yes, those ones.
I had to suddenly break (screeching) and take evasive action simultaneously to avoid ramming into it. It all lasted about a second or so, and we were gone. There was one heavy collective PHEWX in that car. God was in that moment with us. I can’t really explain how I avoided hitting that tractor.
But here is the issue: why does SCOUL continue to claim lives with impunity on the Kampala Jinja highway by refusing to do the simplest thing: keep the tractors off the road at night and fix reflectors on them if they must be out after nightfall? I’m sure that for many of you reading this, you know a family that lost a loved one or someone with lifelong injuries because of those tractors. This isn’t new. People have written, appealed, complained etc, and it seems to me that all SCOUL cares about is profits. Because, to a multi-billion corporation like that one, what is the cost of reflectors?
What must Ugandans do to have a sense of dignity and respect for human life? Why does SCOUL continue producing sugar that is tainted with the blood of all those whose cars have rammed into their tractors? Why should you and I continue purchasing this bloody sugar?
As for me and mine, we have stopped buying Lugazi Sugar from SCOUL. It’s covered with the blood of all those whose bodies have been mutilated, mangled and broken in the wreckage of cars that crash into those tractors. It is bloody sugar.
I’ll not decide for you what you must do. But if you continue to buy that sugar, just remember, there is blood in your tea; and if God hadn’t protected us, that would now include Jeremy’s, Chris’, Olga’s and mine.