Tuesday January 14 2014

Let us act to end road accidents

By Editorial

On Sunday, Ugandans were stirred by the depressing news of the gruesome accident in which seven people died and 14 others sustained serious injuries on the Mengo-Nateete road at Wakaliga, a Kampala suburb. The accident occurred when a truck crashed into a commuter taxi with passengers after it failed to brake. Police cited possible poor mechanical condition as the cause.
The high rate of road accidents in the country has reached worrying levels. In less than two months, there have been as many accidents.

Last week, four people were killed in an accident involving a Bank of Uganda bullion van and a truck at Lukemera village on the Kampala-Gulu highway. In the same week, two other people died when the car they were travelling on rammed into a bus at Kyambogo on the Kampala-Jinja highway. Last month, four people died when two vehicles got involved in an accident at Kakinzi village on the Kampala-Gulu highway. There seems to be no end to these grisly accidents.

Many scenes of road accidents are known black spots where accidents have claimed many lives - and there are many such spots on major roads such as the Kampala-Jinja highway, Masaka Road, Kampala-Gulu highway, and Tirinyi Road.

The police often cite poor mechanical condition of vehicles, reckless driving, drink-driving, talking on phone while driving and failure to observe traffic rules and regulations by motorists as some of the causes of road carnage. But what is being done to address this?

In May last year, State minister for Works and Transport Stephen Chebrot said Uganda had developed a Comprehensive Road Safety Road Map as one of the ways to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in road accident deaths by 2020. But do the rising cases of accidents reflect this?

It is high time the road traffic law enforcers rolled out implementable road safety plans if the travelling community is to travel safely. Besides, the Uganda National Road Authority as well as the district authorities should speed up the construction and repair of roads, many of which are narrow and potholed.

It is actions, not words that will ensure that road users reach their destination safely.