A special memorial joint prayer for the victims of Friday Gaagaa bus bloodbath at Nanda, Kiryandongo district attracted mourners from different part of the country on Sunday.
The tribute, conceivably the most notable in Uganda’s history took place at Akii Bua memorial grounds in Lira town on Sunday and attended by more than 10,000 mourners.
Delivering eulogies, speaker after speaker called for tough laws on vehicle operators (companies) in Uganda and unending unity in times of tragedy.
Our correspondent Immaculate Amony was in Lira and produced this excerpt.
Speaking to mourners, Nelson Adea Akar, the Oyam district LC5 Chairperson termed the incident as tragic, adding: “We are here sending our cries to God. Unity can be seen from here today.”
Alex Oremo Alot of Lira district local government said: “This is the second tragedy after that of Barlonyo massacre,” he said, urging thus: “Ensure vehicle inspection to maintain good condition. Drivers, avoid over-speeding, don’t drink and drive.”
Meanwhile, Mike Ogwang Olwa Veve, the Lira Municipality Mayor said that the Sunday joint prayers was the first he attended. “It’s the first; it has united all the Lango community. It has touched everyone. This thing happened for a purpose, see all these people.”
Bishop Tom Ibrhaim Okello of All Nation Christian Church said he was present when the accident happened. “I couldn’t do anything but praying,” he said
Joy Atim Ongom, the Lira district Woman MP said: “Where are the traffic regulations on buses making return journeys?”
“How does a bus travel all the way from Lira to Karuma with only 1 head lamp.Where was the traffic police?”
“Let’s not take people’s lives to be less important than money. It seems this company only wants money.”
“Gaaga Company must give Shs. 3m to every family who lost a relative and should take responsibility of all those in government hospital.”
According to MP Atim, should Gaagaa fail to cooperate they will be stopped from operating in Lango for a year.
“As Lango Parliamentary Group, we will write to the President so that all road accidents in any region are taken as a national concern,” Atim said.
Syliva Akello, the Otuke district Women MP said: There are those who only come when it’s a problem but in case of development, no one wants to lead the way.”
Her statement was heard by many as ‘mocking’ some of the leaders who keep them self far away from community but appear at a trying moment.
“Religious leaders should pray for Lango so that God can give us a single person to lead us. Sometimes we don’t pay respect to our cultural leaders as it’s happening in other cultures,” she added.
“Vehicles cannot stay for 10years without changing. We know about buses that were bought like 10years ago but they are still on road.”
Jimmy Akena Obote, the Lira Municipality MP who also doubles as the UPC party President thanked the people of Lango for uniting during the tragic moment.
“One important thing is that people came together and work selflessly. As the news came in everyone was getting up and doing all that they could to help. It brought people together and people were working with a common purpose. That unity is manifested even here in this prayer.”
He however cautioned the people of Lango against only coming together during a problem but even for developmental issues.
“It should not be tragedy to bring us together but we should find things of common purpose which we can work together on. Anyone who had thought that such a tragedy would break Lango; instead Lango has come up with shining colors. We have stood together irrespective of whatever background, location or any difference for those who have lost their lives and those still in hospitals.”
Bishop Joseph Franzeli of Lira Diocese: “In time of mourning we only look up to Lord. Through this, God is always calling us to have the same spirit as Jesus. Giving our lives to and that of our brethrens, we should believe and ask God to receive the souls of brethrens.”
“In a place where there is no pain, we should pray for our dead brethren. It’s God’s means to communicate to us.
“We need to begin today to be united as one family working together and asking for forgiveness.”