In a move to improve safety precautions and reduce accident risks, organizers of the forthcoming Pearl of Africa Rally set for August 15-17, have resolved to run a part of the event’s competitive sections on a closed route.
Alfred Mutanda, the event’s clerk of the course, says this is one of the measures being implemented to improve safety standards. Accordingly, two of the ten competitive sections will be staged in Zion Estates’ Star City in Mbuga village near Matugga, where drivers have a chance to do maximum speeds. The aforesaid sections, totaling 30 kilometres, are set for day one (Friday, August 15) of the rally.
The private area will be completely sealed off from any other traffic to give way for rally cars. “You don’t expect to find any boda bodas or someone going for burial on that day,” Mutanda explains, adding that there will be no super special sprint stage for the rally this time round.
The other competitive sections of the rally will be run on public roads but avoiding major towns. For instance, Mutanda said, they have revised the longest section from 53km to 37km because it had previously been designed to pass through Masulita town.
“Our aim is to avoid crowds as much as possible,” says Mutanda, disclosing that the police have fully committed to helping them in organizing a safe rally. Commissioner of Traffic Stephen Kasiima will command the operation.
There are designed viewing points inside the competitive sections, which fans will only access by walking there on foot before rally cars are flagged off. The decision to run a closed route comes on the back of an accident in which a rally car was involved that claimed lives of village children in a recent national championship (NRC) event.
Jinja-based driver Dauda Omar (in a Mitsubishi Evo 4) killed four and injured as many village children (two died on spot and others passed on later in hospital) at Wabutunguru in Zirobwe during the SMC Rally two weeks ago. The children wandered into one of the rally’s competitive sections while on their way from fetching water.
Safety issues are paramount for the Pearl of Africa Rally, which scores championship points for the NRC and continental (ARC) title races. Some past editions of the prestigious rally have been ruined by accidents such as in 2009 when former champion Riyaz Kurji died in a fatal crash at Mityana. Two spectators were killed in an accident during the 2010 edition of the rally.
In reaction, the Confederation of African Countries in Motorsport (CACMS) cautioned that Uganda risked having the rally struck off the continental calendar. However, officials of local motorsport ruling body, FMU, who are also organisers of the event, have since worked hard to enforce safety measures whenever Pearl Rally is staged. FMU vice president, Dusman Okee, has promised further improvements in as far as safety is concerned at this year’s edition of the event.
Meanwhile, top foreign drivers have already confirmed their entries for the rally. They include Zambia ace Mohammed Essa (Mitsubishi Evo X), Rwanda’s Giancarlo Davite, Gary Chaynes (Evo X) of Ivory Coast, Kenya’s Manzir Baryan (who will drive the only Subaru N20 in Africa), Rajbir Rai (Evo X) and Jasereet Chatthe.
Homeboy and winner of last year’s edition of the rally, Jas Mangat (Mitsubishi Evo X), has also confirmed his participation. Former national champion Susan ‘Super Lady’ Muwonge (Subaru N12) is the other local driver set for the rally. Entries close August 5.
Source : The Observer