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A 58-year-old German tourist, Dr Wendsche Ralf Steffen died in a Saturday morning motor accident along the Kabale-Mbarara highway in Kaharo sub-county, Kabale district.

Kigezi region police commander, Ibrahim Saiga said the deceased was travelling together with Silk Venus, 48, also a German tourist, and their Ugandan driver, Morgan Nyombi aged 60 who survived with injuries. 

According to Saiga, the accident happened at the Kabaraga hill corners in Kaharo sub-county when a speeding Fuso fighter lorry, registration number, UBH 009B that was heading towards Kabale direction from Mbarara overtook another vehicle.  

In the process, it knocked the tourist vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser, registration number UAX 567C that was returning from Bwindi impenetrable national park for gorilla tracking to Kampala. Wendsche died on the spot while Venus and Nyombi were rushed to Kabale regional referral hospital with multiple injuries.   

Wendsche's body has also been taken to Kabale regional referral hospital mortuary for postmortem. Elly Maate, police spokesperson for the Kigezi region says the driver of the yet-to-be-identified driver of the lorry took off immediately after the accident. 

He also says that both vehicles have been towed to Kabale police station as investigations into the matter continue. Maate attributes the accident to the lorry driver’s reckless driving. He adds that the German embassy in Uganda has already been informed about the incident. - URN/The Observer


Cabinet has approved $266 million (about Shs 984.2 billion) to revamp the now dormant Uganda Air Cargo Corporation (UACC) Limited, another of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) enterprises.

The company that specializes in cargo freight has been unable to do business for almost four years now owing to a lack of operational capital and grounding of most of its aircraft, some of which are no longer airworthy and have been condemned according to international aviation standards.

Management now says that if the $266 million funding is released, they will be in a position to revamp any revampable equipment and lease more to partake of the abundant opportunities they have missed out over the years. The wretched situation of the company, a subsidiary of the National Enterprise Corporation (holding company of the UPDF) was disclosed to MPs on the committee on defence and internal affairs during their oversight visit to the company premises over the weekend.

General manager Gen Nakibus Lakara (former UPDF chief of staff) disclosed that the decision to extend the required funding to the company was taken by cabinet in May. According to the directive, the money is supposed to be disbursed over four years in installments of $103 million, $110 million, $23 million and $3 million, starting in the next financial year.

The money is to be used to undertake “avionics upgrades, remodification and recalibration of the grounded Hercules C-100-30 aircraft (grounded in Sudan), leasing of an Airbus 320 for (troop movements), leasing of an Airbus 330-200F or an equivalent 60-ton cargo aircraft for longer range cargo freight operations to the Middle East, Asia and Europe and procurement of spares, components and other consumables.”

Once the above is done, according to Lakara, the company would be in a position to operate commercially, given the abundant opportunities available. Currently, the company only does small business with small aircraft within Uganda and immediate neghbourhoods, limiting its revenue capacity.

Lakara who was flanked by his board chairman Capt Gad Gasatura and other senior managers of the company, explained that the time spent without operation has been costly to the company in many ways, including human resource flight, loss of lucrative existing business and opportunities available.

For instance, pilots operate using certificates valid for a given number of years and time spent without flying means the costly certificate is not serving its purpose. The alternative for affected professionals is for pilots moving their services to companies that have craft to fly or UACC paying them for no work done. UACC has also lost three senior aircraft technicians.

A report on the status of the craft indicated that the “silver jewel” of the company, the Hercules C-130 registration No 5F-UCF got grounded in Sudan after ingesting a bird in one of its engines, causing extensive damage. The aircraft is the oldest in the company's fleet, having been procured by the late President Idi Amin.  It still has over 3,000 flight hours once revamped, something Lakara said was a good resource.

Another Hercules C-100-30 is grounded, de-registered and awaits disposal. A Harbin Y-121V (Chinese-made), unregistered was adjudged unserviceable, deregistered and awaiting disposal. It was explained the cost of repair was not worth considering the “four years left on its airframe.”

Another Y-121V (Chinese-made), unregistered was adjudged grounded, deregistered and awaiting disposal. A plane is deregistered, according to International Civil Aviation Organisation rules if it is found un-airworthy and un-serviceable. A 5X-CF is in Jordan at the Jordan Aeronautical Systems Company (JAC) one of the few companies worldwide with the capacity to do major service. 

The upgrade according to UACC managers will include fitting of traffic collision avoidance system 7-1, an 8>33MHz radio, a cockpit voice recorder, flight data recorder, automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, an airdrop system, onboard auxiliary power unit (APU), military and Thuraya satellite communication system and cockpit night vision compatibility among other.

Gasatura and Lakara told the MPs that UACC had lost key clients including the United Nations and in particular World Food Programme, among others. It is noteworthy that Eastern and Central Africa has been having various situations of conflict and human displacement in which the UN has been widely involved with humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, which offer wide business opportunities for stable and steady air operators.

UACC lost its air operator certificate in 2014 when its long flight craft were found not to be airworthy and management says this was part of the cause of the crisis. Other challenges pointed out included the risk of litigation owing to indebtedness. The company was said to be indebted to the tune of Shs 6.686 billion due to delayed payment of statutory fees and failure to clear some of the suppliers.

The MPs expressed sympathy with the managers and promised support at the budget appropriation to ensure the company gets back on its feet. - URN/The Observer


KIGALI, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Africa's urban planners need to work closely with engineers to develop pedestrian-friendly infrastructure that promotes walking as a mode of transportation in African cities, experts and officials said on Tuesday.

"Walkability is the key to an urban area's efficient ground transportation. Walking remains the cheapest form of transportation for all people. Thus, the construction of a walkable city provides the most affordable and equitable transportation system," Pudence Rubingisa, mayor of Kigali, said while officially opening the 23rd International Walk21 Conference on Walking and Liveable Communities, which runs through Friday, in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.

Rubingisa said Kigali's ultimate goal is to increase walking and cycling as a means of transportation in the near future, as the city seeks to reduce motor vehicle traffic.

"I want to reiterate Kigali's commitment to promoting sustainable urban mobility and walkability. We believe that every step we take toward a more pedestrian-friendly future is a step toward a brighter, healthier, and more equitable world," he said.

Themed "Action for Walking: The affordable and essential steps to improve walkability," the conference brought together politicians, academics, government officials, and experts to share the latest research, innovative ideas, and initiatives aimed at creating walkable streets and public spaces.

Rubingisa said urban planning needs to be inclusive and responsive to the needs of local communities and build on participatory approaches that foster the engagement of marginalized actors while advancing access to basic services such as equitable and accessible transport, among others.

"Kigali's investment in pedestrian infrastructure, dedicated bike lanes, and green spaces has resulted in a city where walking is not merely a necessity but a pleasure for all the citizens," he said.

In African cities, walking is the primary mode of transportation for the majority, with up to 78 percent of people walking every day to access work, education, health care, markets, and public transportation, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

But until recently, walking, almost everywhere on the continent, received relatively minor policy attention and resource allocation. Walking infrastructure was lacking, whereby most roads had no footpaths or crossings and were poorly signed and maintained, the UNEP said.

Rob de Jong, the head of UNEP's Sustainable Mobility Unit, said investment in walking and cycling infrastructure contributes to good health and well-being and leads to sustainable cities and communities. - Xinhua

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