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Japanese Road Expert Dies After Attack in Kampala Traffic Jam

Police Spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga. PHOTO/FILE

Kampala, Uganda | THE BLACK EXAMINER | A Japanese infrastructure consultant who had arrived in Uganda to assist in the enhancement of road intersections and the alleviation of traffic congestion has tragically lost his life after being assaulted while stuck in a traffic jam. Okira Ito, who had been collaborating with the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) on road infrastructure initiatives, passed away following nearly three weeks in a coma at the China-Uganda Friendship Hospital in Naguru, Kampala.

The attack transpired on September 8 at Centenary Park when Ito was ambushed by a gang of assailants. These individuals, donning National Resistance Movement (NRM) t-shirts and singing party anthems, also pilfered some of his possessions, which included a laptop, two mobile phones, and an unspecified sum of money.

Despite Ito’s valiant effort to pursue the assailants after they grabbed his bag through a partially opened car window, the gang overwhelmed him, subjected him to physical assault, and then fled the scene. Regrettably, the incident occurred in an area devoid of police CCTV surveillance.

Following the assault, Ito’s driver promptly rushed him to the hospital for medical attention, and law enforcement was subsequently notified. An investigation was launched, leading to the apprehension of nine suspects. Some of Ito’s stolen belongings were recovered by the police during a search of shops in Kisekka Market.

Initially, the suspects were charged with aggravated robbery; however, the police, in collaboration with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, are in the process of amending the charges to include the murder of Ito.

The tragic demise of Ito has sparked concerns regarding the safety of foreign professionals engaged in projects in Uganda. A senior official from KCCA expressed apprehension that such incidents could discourage other experts from undertaking similar assignments in Uganda.

In response to Ito’s untimely passing, a joint security operation aimed at combating crimes occurring during traffic congestions was carried out in Kampala City.

It’s worth noting that criminal factions in Kampala, often referred to as “kuvuga ekigaali” (operating as a group), frequently engage in various criminal activities amid traffic jams. These activities encompass theft of vehicle parts, robbing pedestrians, and assaulting individuals who attempt to thwart their crimes. Unfortunately, previous incidents, such as the attack on James Kakooza, a city councilor, have remained unresolved, highlighting the challenges in addressing such criminal factions.

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