Sunday July 27 2014

Kampala should embrace walking and cycling

By editorial

Kampala Capital City Authority executive director Jennifer Musisi has set her sights high, and is rushing out several projects at once. In the last few months, (KCCA) has set off several new plans for fly overs, electronic cables cars, and commuter train service to provide alternative transport and rid the city of traffic jams. Now, another plan seeks to create a no-go zone for vehicles and motorcycles on the route from Rubaga Road junction to Mwanga II Road through Mackay Road and Luwum Street. But some city residents fear the plans are ambitious, piecemeal, and risk failure.
Regardless of the fears, the idea of a non-motorised transport is great because KCCA should get off the ground and enforce measures to decongest Kampala city. First, this project is doable, and has policy backing since it is derived from the wider pilot project of Non-motorised Transport Policy 2013, of ministry of Works and Transport. Second, Kampala is one of four pilot towns besides Iganga, Jinja, and Mukono, set to implement the non-motorised transport project. Third, the project is achievable as Mr Patrick Kayemba, the Executive Director of Jinja-based First African Bicycle Information Organisation (FABIO), says it has worked in Iganga. In Iganga in 2000, the town council authorities worked jointly with UN Habitat, FABIO, and Netherlands-founded Iganga Foundation, to secure buy-in from the town council. Then, the partners created structures to promote non-motorised transport, put in place traffic calming measures such as walkways, and rechannelled traffic. Now, Saza Road is split with one way for motorists and another for non-motorised transport.
Likewise, KCCA with support from UN Habitat and with close involvement of FABIO should be able to pull off this plan and promote an environmentally friendly transport system. Though it took seven years for FABIO to secure buy-in from Iganga, the enthusiastic ownership of this project by KCCA managers should quicken the process. What is more, with KCCA’s strategies of detailed design, and now ongoing media and public mobilisation and awareness campaigns should deliver this project. Indeed, the residents deserve a ‘smart moving Kampala. This avoids streets being crowded with both people and automobiles. For instance, Leeds city in the UK has some of its busiest streets restricted to only pedestrians and cyclists and delivery vans so they do not congest and disrupt foot and cycle traffic and avoid accidents, too. As Makerere University’s Urban Planning Department lecturer Ms Aidah Amanda says, this option promotes more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly transport. Similarly, this will reduce air pollution and improve the quality of public space. Residents should foot it and ride to and from the city because it eases traffic, and is healthier.

The issue: Non-motorised transport
Our view: Residents should foot it and ride to and from the city because it eases traffic and is healthier.