Uganda has worst roads in East Africa - report

Tuesday November 12 2019

Accident. A breakdown truck tows the wreckage

Accident. A breakdown truck tows the wreckage of cars that were involved in an accident in Mityana District in August 2018.  

By Stephen Otage

The Inspectorate of Vehicles has said Ugandan roads are the worst in East Africa in terms of carnage, killing at least 3,500 people per year.
While opening a joint smart drivers’ training workshop at Namboole stadium yesterday, Mr Suleiman Kirungi, the commissioner for Inspectorate of Motor Vehicles, told bus drivers that besides their personal problems and those caused by their bosses, the 2018 UN Economic Commission for Africa Road Safety Performance report for Uganda, showed that safety on Ugandan roads is the worst in East Africa.

“The UN report named Ugandan roads as the worst in East Africa. When you have your own problems at home, your bosses do not want to listen to you, when the vehicles are faulty, your bosses do not pay attention, your bosses do not want to hire professional people,” Mr Kirungi said.
He called for concerted efforts to address road safety because it starts with the individual.
The week-long training was organised by Mac East Africa and Isuzu Motors for bus drivers and owners to sensitise them about road safety ahead of the Christmas season.

The general manager of Mac East Africa, Mr Mohamed Khadr, said they need to carry out regular sensitisation programmes to remind their clients about road safety measures since technology keeps changing.
The report signed by Mr Jean Todt, the UN Secretary General’s special envoy on road safety, indicates that on average, 10 Ugandans die on roads daily, which is the worst record in East Africa.
However, the report does not give carnage rates on roads of other East African countries.

Compiled with the help of the different government ministries departments and agencies, the report cites absence of road accident data, lack of emergency response teams, a dead motor vehicle inspection department, importation of used vehicles and substandard road designs as some of the major causes of carnage on Ugandan roads
Asked what they are doing to implement recommendations of the study, Ms Barbara Mwanje, the chairperson of the National Road Safety Council, said they concur with the findings and they are working with other government agencies to address them.

“I do not have the technical competence to tell how good roads are designed but some sections of our roads are extremely narrow. We do not have effective emergency response teams, we do not have the right policies for vehicle standards,” she said.
Ms Mwanje said some areas require interventions of technical departments such as police and the Ministry of Health.
Mr Winstone Katushabe, the chief licensing officer of motor vehicles, said they are aware of most of the issues raised in the report and whenever they get new information, they act on it by following up with the responsible agencies.

Causes of road carnage in Uganda


• Lack of a road safety programme in the country and unregulated public transport system.
• Most vehicles are in poor mechanical condition.
• Local governments and education sectors do not participate in road safety efforts.
• No framework for monitoring road safety regularly.
• An underfunded and under resourced National Road Safety Council to coordinate road safety.
•The road accident data management system in Uganda is poor and below accepted international standards.
•Most of the roads are single carriageway without a median, many with steep shoulders and with few opportunities for overtaking, resulting in many head-on collisions.
• Not being a vehicle manufacturing country, Uganda relies on imports for its fleet.

• Up to 90 per cent of the fleet imported are cheap used vehicles, particularly from Asia.
•Mandatory vehicle inspection was suspended over 20 years ago and the effort to re-introduce inspection has met resistance from different circles in the country, including from the political leadership.
• Poor quality driving standards, with driver behaviour leading to a large number of accidents.
•The enforcement of traffic rules is one of the main strategic efforts to improve road safety. The police enforce the traffic laws largely based on roadside checks and speed management operations.