Faulty traffic lights sow chaos on Kampala roads

Friday December 15 2017

Despite the installation of new traffic lights

Despite the installation of new traffic lights in the city, the traffic jam menace is still on. File photo 



If you are attempting to cross any major junctions in Kampala City, you have to be extra careful because the traffic light signals are sometimes misleading
On several occasions the traffic lights have displayed misleading signals to motorists at major city junctions, nearly causing accidents.
Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) officials have attributed the incidents to malfunction and vandalism.
For instance, vehicles plying Kira Road junction were nearly involved in an accident recently after new traffic lights installed by KCCA malfunctioned.
A witness, who preferred anonymity, said several vehicles were nearly involved in head-on collisions in the middle of the junction and each of them swerved the opposite direction to avoid an accident.
“The car avoiding collision headed straight to the motorcycle I was on. We only survived after the rider avoided contact with the car,” the eyewitness said.
KCCA has erected traffic lights at several junctions in the city centre and its suburbs. There are traffic lights at Makerere Hill Road, Mambule Road, Bwaise and Kira Road.
The traffic lights on Yusuf Lule Road near Fairway Hotel have been malfunctioning since they were erected.
Mr Peter Kauju, the KCCA spokesman, recently said the traffic lights at Yusuf Lule Road went off after unknown people vandalised the cables connecting them to the power supply. They have since been reconnected.
Some of the traffic lights in the city such as those at Clock Tower on Entebbe Road and Kitgum House junction on Jinja Road are still using old technology. They are pre-set and, therefore, cannot efficiently respond to solve a surge of traffic from one direction.
The Executive Director of KCCA, Ms Jennifer Musisi, said during the mid-term review of the institutional infrastructure development on Wednesday, that KCCA had invested a lot of money in traffic lights to save people from traffic jams, but traffic police are hindering their operation by overruling them.
Ms Musisi’s assertion is supported by Operation Wealth Creation chairman, Gen Salim Saleh.
Gen Salim Saleh, while meeting members of the Police Advisory Committee at Namunkekeera in Kapeere, Nakaseke District recently, said the biggest challenge to investors in the city is traffic jam.
“We are wasting a lot of money in traffic jams. This is the biggest problem in Kampala. I wanted the director of traffic police, Dr Stephen Kasiima, to study the cause of the problem and address it.”
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman, Mr Luke Owoyesigyire, said junctions with traffic lights using old technology are manned by traffic police officers or KCCA traffic warders to control the flow of traffic.
“If we allow the vehicles to move according to the traffic lights on some of these junctions, there will be gridlock in the city. Sometimes the lights don’t correspondent with the events in the city,” he said.
Some motorists often allege that whenever traffic officers take over control of traffic at junctions, there is traffic gridlock in the city centre.
However, a senior city traffic officer, preferred anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the press, said the claims are false.
“There are two areas that people often claim that it is the police that cause jam in --Clock Tower and Jinja Road junctions. The jam in those areas is caused by the road design, not traffic officers. We just come in to give an alternative,” the officer said.
At Clock Tower on Entebbe Road, he said, traffic from Entebbe is allowed to flow more than other points because if it is clogged up to Kampala Road near Bank of Baroda, the entire city would be affected.
He said once Kampala-Entebbe Road junction is blocked, vehicles heading to and from Jinja will not be able move.
The officer said the city planners do not consider new developments, some of whom are not on the city plan.
He said new unplanned roads such as the one near Yusuf Lule Road Roundabout between the Garden City and Oasis Mall, created traffic jam on Shimoni Road, Yusuf Lule Road, Jinja Road and Access Road (connecting to Mukwano Road).
He said police were against the creation of the new road but KCCA sanctioned it.
He added that the traffic jam in the area has forced them to deploy officers there all day.