Friday September 22 2017

Govt should address traffic jam challenge

Vehicles stuck in Traffic jam along 8th street

Vehicles stuck in Traffic jam along 8th street industrial area in Kampala. Photo by Joseph Kiggundu 

The menace of traffic jam, especially in and around the metropolitan Kampala, is reaching unbearable level. Motorists, boda boda riders and even pedestrian are in varying ways bearing the brunt of prolonged hold ups in traffic gridlocks on our roads.

Imagine a distance between Mukono and Kampala, which is 24.9 kilometres, which should ideally take 53 minutes via Jinja Road or Northern Bypass, now takes several hours. To be precise, due to intense gridlock at several sections of the road; it now takes a motorist not less than three hours to cover the same distance. It is unacceptable.

Moreover, this has great implications not only the motorists, but also to the national economy. Imagine a person living in Mukono but working in Kampala taking about six hours on the return journey!
Considering that there are 10 normal working hours a day, this implies that the person will have less hours and by extension, have low productivity given that they reach their work place late.

The aggregate of many workers producing below capacity impacts negatively on the economy. Little wonder, therefore, that according to statistics from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda’s economy economic growth rate stands at 4.6 per cent in the Financial Year (FY) 2015/16 down from the 5 per cent growth rate registered in the FY 2014/15.
Besides, the long and winding jams force motorists to dig deeper into their pockets to fork out their heard-earned money to buy enough fuel to sustain them on the road.

Buying more fuel may be good as this boosts national revenue. But the underside of it is that when fuel drains people’s incomes, they are left with little money to spend on services and other goods. The closure of big and small supermarkets in the country as a result of few buyers due to lack of purchasing power, is testimony to this.
Given the traffic congestion dilemma, it is important that the government, as matter of urgency, moves fast to address the traffic gridlock dilemma.

Among other things, the government should embark on repairing all feeder roads leading to the city. This should be accompanied by enlarging the trunk roads leading to and out of Kampala into several carriages ways. It is important that the traffic police and other related agencies become proactive and invoke community penalty for indisciplined and reckless motorists.

Also the huge influx of boda boda riders into the city should be addressed. Many these riders do not observe traffic rules and regulations hence causing confusion on the roads. The government should also review the public transport sector and ensure that buses replace commuter taxis.