Tororo-Tororo Town was in sober mood as news trickled in that Gateway buses owner and one of the town’s dearest sons had passed on in South Africa.
Hussein Shire, 85, a Ugandan of Somali origin, died on Saturday in a Johannesburg hospital after undergoing knee surgery. According to relatives, he had also been battling a number of kidney-related ailments.
His son, Mr Abdullahi Hussein Shire, said his father died after undergoing knee surgery and that his body was expected to arrive in the country yesterday.
A night vigil has been set at his home along Malaba Road in Tororo Town.
“Mzee has been sick. He died on Saturday and my mother Mariam Hussein and brothers are in South Africa preparing to fly the body to Tororo for burial,” said Mr Abdulla Hussein, adding that his father had willed to be buried at the Muslim Cemetery at Mile One on Jinja Road in Tororo Town.
Shire is survived by a widow and nine children, five girls and four boys.
He was a versatile businessman who was involved in a number of ventures including his flagship Gateway buses operating throughout eastern and northern Uganda.
He also owned Shire petrol stations, Papa Bakery in Tororo, several commercial buildings that include Hussein stores and shops located on Tagore Road in Tororo Town and about 2,000 acres of sugarcane plantation that supplies Kakira Sugar Works and Mayuge Sugar Works.
Shire also established a bus terminal in the city, the Gateway Bus Terminal in Kisenyi, adjacent to the Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium. This is the busiest and most popular bus terminal for buses and passengers en route to Kigali, western, and northern Uganda routes.
Shire was born in Kumi Town in 1931, then a trading centre in Teso sub-region. He started out as a retailer and later joined the transport industry with Tata buses in 1983.
The Gateway Tata bus was the first bus in Tororo that most travellers used to commute between the east and Kampala. He ventured into Karamoja sub-region when the roads were at their worst, and insecurity in the sub-region at its peak.
Tororo Municipality Mayor Geoffrey Emokol Opuwa described Mr Shire as a man who provided service beyond human, a man who sacrificed his buses even when the security of Karamoja was bad and the road network impassable.
Mr Opuwa described Shire’s death as a big loss. “He was an entrepreneur, and a brother who created jobs for the people of Tororo. He was the first man to operate a bus company in Tororo,” Mr Opuwa said.
“He braved the Sironko-Nakapiripirit-Moroto road, he also risked his buses to Soroti-Moroto, Soroti- Kotido and Soroti-Kaboong and Mbale-Lira at the time the raids were bad and LRA insurgency as well as insurgency in Karamoja sub-region. To date, his buses remain the only reliable means of transport for anybody going to Karamoja sub-region,” Mr Opuwa added.
Mr Paul Oundo, a local businessman, said Shire was among the few tycoons who started businesses in Tororo Town in the 1950s before establishing the Gateway Bus Company in the early 1980s.
He spent the rest of his life living in Tororo running his Hussein Store shop on Tagore Road.
Relatives and friends have described him as a simple, disciplined and hard working man who ensured everybody improved on their livelihoods.
Staff at Hussein Stores said he treated them like his own children, paid them well and sent their children to good schools besides constructing houses for them.
A business woman in Tororo Town, Ms Alice Awori, described Shire as a real parent whose parenting helped her graduate from retail shop to a wholesale dealer.
The senior assistant town clerk in-charge of Western Division, Tororo Municipality, Mr Felix Gabriel Ofwono, regretted the demise of Shire and said he was among the highest taxpayers in the division. He said Shire championed Keep Tororo Town Clean programme.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor