Three people have sustained serious injuries after two fuel trucks caught fire along the Iganga-Bugiri Highway.
The incident, involving trucks belonging to Nile Gaz Company, occurred at around 10:00 am on Sunday morning at Busesa Village, Ibulanku Sub-county in Iganga District.
Both trucks were reportedly going to refill from another truck belonging to the same company which overturned after its driver lost control as reported by Daily Monitor.
The truck that overturned was traveling from Mombasa to Kanyanya, a Kampala suburb, with fuel on board.
According to eyewitness accounts, the withdrawal of fuel from the overturned truck into both trucks went on successfully but the driver of one of the trucks tried to ignite his engine, triggering an inferno in the process.
Mr Joseph Badaza, an eyewitness, said in the process of refilling the trucks, some petrol spilled onto the battery of one of the trucks and when the driver, unknowingly, turn on the ignition, it started a fire.
“In the process of withdrawing fuel, some petrol spilled on the battery and the fire started when the driver tried to start the engine,” Mr Badaza said, adding that when fire started, several people with jerry cans and basins attempted to siphon fuel managed to escape, leaving three people including one of the drivers of the trucks identified as Farouk Ndawula injured.
The two other heavily injured causalities were rushed to Iganga Hospital to receive treatment.
Speaking to the Daily Monitor from his hospital bed, Mr Ndawula said the problem was caused by the locals who were siphoning fuel.
“As we were withdrawing fuel from the overturned truck into the two trucks, the locals were busy siphoning fuel and it is this petrol which spilled onto the battery,” he said.
It took about an hour for the police fire brigade to respond and extinguish the fire and salvage the trucks that had been gutted by the fire.
The Iganga District officer-in charge of traffic, Rogers Bandeke, said by the time fire broke out, the fire brigade didn’t have water having emptied its tank extinguishing the fire that had caught the truck that had overturned.
Locals, however, accused police of being unresponsive; arguing that if it had responded in time, damage to the trucks would have been minimal.
Police officers led by the District Police Commander (DPC), Nasibu Ndita, arrived at the scene but watched on helplessly as the trucks emitted thick fumes of smoke with the fire brigade still out of sight.
The fire fighters managed to arrive almost an hour later and put off the fire which left a motorcycle burnt to ashes. The motorcycle is said to have been abandoned by one of the locals who had gone to siphon fuel.
Traffic along the Iganga-Bugiri Highway was momentarily interrupted for hours as police tried to manage the situation.
Relatedly, police were forced to fire bullets and disperse a rowdy crowd of youths who wanted to siphon fuel from the truck that had overturned on Saturday.
This incident occurred about 400 metres from where another fuel truck caught fire about10 years ago, killing more than 200 people who had gone to siphon fuel.
By press time, traffic flow had normalized while police was trying to remove the wreckage from the scene.