Singer Ronald Alimpa, best known for his hit song Seen Don, has vowed to use his new lease of life to advocate for road safety.
Alimpa recently survived a deadly car crash and has warned fellow musicians and all Ugandans against speeding, mobile phone use while driving and to always keep time as they move from one show to another, writes ZURAH NAKABUGO.
On the night of sustained a broken leg and other injuries in different parts of his body after the car he was travelling in with other musicians veered off the road in Semuto, Nakaseke and rolled several times.
The crash claimed the lives of singers Lady Grace and Saidi Kabuye. Five other occupants in the car sustained serious injuries. According to police statistics, speeding is the major cause of road crashes, followed by phone use while driving and drink-driving.
“If our car wasn’t speeding, we wouldn’t have got many injuries. But as my driver sped to reach in time at the next show, we ended up in a deadly crash that left two of my colleagues dead,” he said.
Alimpa, 23, is currently undergoing traditional bone-setting treatment at Balibawo bone setters nursing home at Gayaza. He has spent about two months on treatment and has shown some improvement of enabling to sit.
CAUSE OF THE CRASH
He said he has found comfort in the Balibawo compared to the orthopaedics and the treatment is cheaper compared to hospitals. Speaking to The Observer on his sick bed, Alimpa revealed how the accident happened and blames speeding.
“I boarded my car at around 8 pm in Mukono, heading to Semuto for another show. I was talking on the phone throughout the journey, often updating my manager where we had reached. Tensions rose when my manager said fans had started fighting and were accusing him of failing to bring Alimpa. That’s when the driver increased the speed,” he said.
“As we were about to reach the venue at around 1 am, the vehicle hit a big pothole, jumped into air, and later rolled down three times before landing in a swamp,” he said.
He further noted that apart from the driver, the rest of the occupants were not wearing seat belts.
“One of us who didn’t sustain serious injuries woke up first after the crash and managed to pull us out of the wreckage to avoid drowning. Lady Grace was bleeding a lot from her broken leg. That’s when I also realized my leg was broken,” he said.
“One of us managed to drag himself to the main road, but almost all the vehicles he attempted to stop refused, suspecting him to be highway robber. After an hour, one vehicle managed to stop and took us to Mulago hospital. Lady Grace and Kabuye died on the arrival at Mulago,” he added.
Alimpa would helplessly spend three days at Mulago without receiving any treatment neither pain killers.
“The doctors told us to buy medicine but they didn’t apply it to us and neither told us how to use it. We were stuck. I requested to leave Mulago and I decided to go to Balibawo,” he said.
Since then, Alimpa said he feels much improvement, adding that the method used at Balibawo may appear unorthodox, but it is effective. Frank Balibawo, one of the people treating Alimpa, said he will recover within short time if he follows to their treatment regulations.
“I have the ability to cure bone disorders perfectly well and after the treatment; there will be no complaint, however serious the injury may be. I don’t use any charms nor perform any rituals. But what I do, is to give patients an assurance that they will be fine, and eventually they cure,” he said.
Alimpa promised to compose a song aiming at fighting road accidents in the country as well as advocating for emergency treatment centres in different parts of the country to save lives.
“I will continue singing even when I am bedridden and I promise to return on stage early next year with new hits, including saving lives on roads,” he said.
Reached out for a comment, Dr Michael Muhumuza, a senior consultant neurosurgeon at Mulago hospital, said that on average, the hospital receives between 35 to 70 road crash patients every week at the neurosurgery ward and all these patients have cases related to damage on the brain, which need expensive operations.
Meanwhile, Faridah Nampiima, the Traffic police spokesperson said most road crashes can be avoided if all road users respect road regulations such as avoid speeding, drink-driving, careless and reckless driving.
According to Uganda Police Annual Crime report 2021, a total of 3,757 people died in motor accidents last year while 18,305 people were injured.
The report shows an increase of 42 per cent in the number of crashes occurred in 2021 which was 17, 443 from 12,249 in 2020. The increase in crashes was attributed to speeding, drink driving, not wearing belts and phone use while driving.
Over 1.3 million people die in road crashes every year globally, with more than nine in ten deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries like Uganda.
WHO data shows that road crashes is the number one cause of death among 15 to 29 years old, and that is Alimpa’s age bracket. In non-fatal cases, the victims are often left permanently injured, which causes a huge financial burden on the victim’s family and government. It shows over 50 million people are injured in road accidents every year globally.
Dr Olive Kobusingye, the director Trauma, Injuries and Disability program at the Makerere University School of Public Health, said the poor planning of transport sector is the major cause of road crashes.
“The road are narrow, with many potholes and yet many vehicles are competing to use these narrow roads which increases risks of road crashes,” she said.
WHO and UN targets to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50 per cent within that decade by calling on governments and stakeholders to implement an integrated safe system approach which positions road safety as a key driver of sustainable development.