Written by Catherine Ntabadde
Hundreds of people camped on the Kampala-Gayaza road as the Walk to Town campaign turned into cat and mouse chase between the supporters of Forum for Democratic Change leader Dr. Kizza Besigye and Anti-Riot Police.
The crowds waved to Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) while praising the leading humanitarian agency for its evacuation services. The Kampala-Gayaza road was blocked with logs and big stones. The URCS ambulances were the only vehicles provided with access at the road blocks. All other vehicles were denied access.
URCS evacuated 44 injured persons including 9 students of Wampewo Ntake Secondary School and 3 infants of Safari Kindergarten in Gayaza after they inhaled tire-gas. The Anti Riot Police used teargas to disperse rioters following the Police’s interception of Dr. Besigye at Kasangati, his home town. He was walking to work. Dr. Besigye led the campaign of Walk to Work in protest of the increasing fuel and commodity prices. Three people including Dr. Besigye were hit by stray bullets. Others were a 7 months pregnant woman and a supporter of Dr. Besigye whose thigh was injured.
The evacuations done by URCS were spearheaded by the Secretary General Michael Nataka who together with State Minister of Health Kakooza James personally lifted students of Wampewo Ntake to help them into waiting URCS and Ministry of Health ambulances.
Of the injured, 35 were referred to Mulago Hospital and 4 at Kawala Health Centre. Jinja and Masaka recorded 4 and 1 injuries respectively. The URCS also evacuated 4 people in Makindye Division to Nsambya Hospital.
The Assistant Director Disaster Management Kevin Nabutuwa said most of the injuries sustained were due to fainting and inhaling of tear gas.
Five of those admitted at Mulago had by 4pm recovered. URCS transported them back to Kasangati. Betty Kabushi hailed URCS for saving her life. “I do not remember how I got here but I have been told that it is the Red Cross which brought me here when I was in bad condition. I am very grateful to them,” she said.
The Secretary General Nataka said URCS would support Mulago hospital with medical supplies following a request by the hospital administration due to the influx of causality patients.