Last Updated on: 17th January 2023, 02:54 pm
In her first press conference of 2023 held last week, Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) party said 2023 is “a New Year of Caution”.
Addressing the day’s media conference, the party’s spokesperson Arach Oyat Sharon also spoke of other three issues, among them the New Year Eve’s stampede in Kampala.
Below is her detailed statement.
Having ended 2022 with a lot of challenges and real life threatening experiences that prompted the Government to have many special press conferences to address the nation, it is a clear testimony that as a country, we need to be more cautious, alert and vigilant in this New Year, 2023. This watch out is related especially to Ebola and Covid-19 diseases that put our economy to the knees and they have a potential of re-occurring if we lower our guard as appealed by the Party President Hon. Jimmy Akena in his 2022 end of year address which we continue to carry forward.
The prices of goods and services have really skyrocketed mainly for fuel, food, medicine and building materials hence the need for both caution and hard work geared towards promoting Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU).
The warning signs in early 2023 are much a reflection of the previous year;
- Freedom City stampede
The Freedom City incident, which occurred on the eve of 2023, was a New Year tragedy that shall permanently remain in our minds, when a number of people died and others got seriously injured as a result of stampede in a bid to have a glimpse of the new dawn and fireworks.
- Comments as Museveni appoints five Members of Parliament from Lango to PACOB
- Angoda: Simplify PUJAB form procedures for students
- Bishop James Nasak confirms 101 in Abim as tour of duty nears an end
UPC is very much concerned about such sad development and requests the relevant authorities to fully investigate the incident with an aim of offering us more practical lessons and preventive measures. This can offer a better way of how best we can organize events in future, though the country is learning the hard way after the loss of our children, relatives and friends. The Party sends heartfelt condolences to the families that lost their dear ones in the Freedom City fracas and pray for divine healing as well as speedy, total recovery to those who are still nursing wounds both at home and different hospitals.
UPC observes that the world is evolving; for instance, now we have specialists in organizing social events! We should also have specialists in crowd management as the two should go hand in hand as the entertainment industry is expanding very fast with a big contribution to our nation’s economy and it offers employment to a cross section of our people.
The Ministry of Education and Sports under the Directorate of Industrial Training should develop Occupational Standards and curriculum to train event managers as well as certifying them. This will reduce such managerial incidents.
Much as UPC appreciates the way the government comes in to assist the bereaved families in such circumstances with moral and material support, a financial contribution of UGX 5m is a drop in the ocean! This support/assistance needs to be revised upwards.
- Rampant road accidents (crashes)
On several occasions, UPC has addressed this critical issue of road carnage through the weekly press conferences as it continues to haunt the country and offered advice. A lot of our people are losing their lives while others get terribly injured with most of the vehicles involved completely written off in most cases! According to the Daily Monitor online article of 9th January 2023, between December 23 and January 7, 2023, more than 120 people have died and scores have sustained serious injuries due to road accidents across the country. This is disturbing, regrettable and worrying!
We salute Nkozi Hospital for starting to construct a special wing to cater for accident victims along Masaka road. These cases are always referred to Kampala and referral hospitals which are sometimes very far from the scene! The chances of recovery are always very difficult due to long distances to the nearby hospital and traffic jams on the way.
UPC has also noted with great concern that the blood banks in the country have been running low due to heavy demand of blood by road accident victims. We want to commend the undertaking of Kabaka and Mengo Establishment for the ongoing blood donation drive in all the 18 counties of Buganda Kingdom.
The rampant road accidents are, of late reminding the country of the urgent need to establish a Rapid Rescue Team (road, marine and air) which should be well trained and equipped with modern facilities to facilitate real time response like Air Ambulances and Drones to both accident victims and those in critical conditions of other ailments. This is the only way to deliver the urgently needed first aid and subsequent treatment. This also calls for upgrading and equipping of our health care centers well to be in position to handle managerial cases and minimize unnecessary referrals to National Referral Hospitals.
UPC joins in solidarity to thank the medical staff of Kambuga Hospital for attending to the Minister of Information, Technology and National Guidance Hon. Chris Baryomunsi before he was airlifted to Kampala at Mulago Hospital following his collapse on field duty. Such unfortunate situations and incidents better explains why we need to have our health facilities rehabilitated and functioning fully across the country.
The state of roads are a real menace, potholes remain unattended on key highways and cities including Kampala, the country’s major city! Some road sections are too narrow, corners are too sharp and with various trading centers developing, there are hardly any traffic lights in such places.
UPC is calling upon the government through her Ministry of Works and Transport to restore the system of Public Works Department (PWD) camps along highways that used to detect damages and attend to them immediately. Tanzania has continued with this system of PWD camps which help to maintain roads in good shape.
In the medium and long term, we need to decongest our roads by building more flyovers in the cities and widening our highways and effectively restoring railway and air transport among others. This is how a real good future can be secured!
- Dry weather signals
Uganda is blessed with two rainy seasons a year compared to other parts of the world and we have just had a very heavy rain season that had been projected to extend into January – February 2023. The farmers across the country had responded positively and planted a lot of crops.
With our erratic rains, the crops are experiencing a big set-back; those who are in position to irrigate have already started doing it. This leaves the poor farmer with nothing, but poor harvests! This means that the cost of production for irrigated crops is to be high. By implication, it is signaling increased food scarcity and high prices, which is bound to affect our economy.
Last year’s school calendar was cut short by the government for fear of Ebola disease. However, most schools had already exhausted their food stocks by then and the announcement for the abrupt closure of schools indirectly helped out to solve the food crisis in such schools.
The challenge shifted to our homes, whereby having two meals a day is becoming more difficult. UPC is advising the government to start stockpiling dry food rations for hard times ahead of us. This implies that all our food storage facilities/silos should be in good condition, and adequate crop financing to enable farmers to buy farmers produce across the country.
Happy New Year!