Are zebra crossings any useful?

Some drivers are insensitive on the zebra crossing. FILE PHOTO.

Ever heard people say, ‘If you can drive in Kampala, you can drive anywhere else in the world?’ Perhaps, there is a grain of truth in the statement. But walking the streets of Kampala, especially downtown is no better. It is synonymous to squeezing one’s self through a small door of a crashing train, as everyone stampedes to save their lives. People are merciless on those streets! One has no problem pushing you off the walkway, just so they pass.

And when it gets to driving – it is a jungle. With the traffic lights left to be ornamental, and the boda boda riders surfacing from every, and any side of the road, the drivers are not any better. At times I am left to wonder whether some of our drivers can read road signs, later on understand what they mean. Do they know any traffic rules, road use, or even how to drive?

I would like to believe the best some can do, (especially taxi drivers) is to accelerate and break. The rules are for the weak… And that is where my concern is. What on earth happened to zebra crossings? I do not mean they went missing in action, but, why do we have them when drivers and cyclists do not know what they mean, the pedestrians too? Come to think of it, it could save whoever paints them a few pennies, which they could put to better use, since they do not help any of us.

If I remember correctly, those black and white or black and yellow stripes at different road points are supposed to be areas ‘where vehicles must stop if pedestrians wish to cross’ and it really does not take a lot of time. Just a few minutes of patience do not hurt. And we are both happy.

But of course, Ugandan drivers are untouchable. They will accelerate at a zebra crossing, like no man’s business and get away with it. Whereas I believe that respecting zebra crossings can save a life or two of pedestrians and motorists, it all begins with you – the person behind that wheel.


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