Uganda is one of the African countries with the highest rate of road accidents, a World Health Organisation report on road safety says.
The Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013, indicates that Uganda had 2,954 deaths in 2010 as a result of road accidents, Nigeria had 4,065 while South Africa registered the highest number at 13,768 by 2009.
“While Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania have relatively low (for the region) road fatality rates, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda combine big populations with very high fatality rates, resulting in large numbers of deaths,” the report says.
“These countries must reduce their road deaths considerably if the region is to realise a significant reduction in deaths,” it adds.
However, in an interview with this newspaper on Friday, Kampala Metropolitan Traffic Police Commander, Mr Lawrence Niwabiine, said the statistics that were used in the report are old.
“According to last year’s statistics, Uganda had reduced accidents by 10 per cent and we expect to improve because we have now stepped up the enforcement of the law with the use of breathalyzers which will reduce accidents in urban centres.”
“We are also working at reducing accidents along the highways and this will be achieved with the deployment of officers with speed guns.”
A press statement from WHO notes that only 28 countries, covering seven per cent of the world’s population, have comprehensive road safety laws on five key risk factors of drink driving, speeding, failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.
The report comes days after police moved to arrest drunk pedestrians.
Mr Niwabiine said pedestrians will be arrested for drink-walking to curb what traffic police say are people endangering their own lives and those of other road users.
Uganda’s traffic law is laid down in the Traffic and Road Safety Act of 1998 and it explains the different traffic regulations.
While delivering the report, WHO director general Margaret Chan said, “Political will is needed at the highest level of government to ensure appropriate road safety legislation and stringent enforcement of laws by which we all need to abide.”
“If this cannot be ensured, families and communities will continue to grieve, and health systems will continue to bear the brunt of injury and disability due to road traffic crashes.”