The two horrific accidents on our roads that have killed scores of people in only one day should jerk us into immediate action. On a single Sunday, 10 people died in a crash involving a bus and a parked taxi at Bukonte in Namutumba District, on the Iganga-Mbale highway, in eastern Uganda.
Many more suffered cuts, fractures, and other dreadful injuries. Some had their limbs amputated. This was the second crash involving same bus fleet that had left another 45 passengers, nearly an entire busload, injured only a week ago.
The second Sunday disaster had a fuel tanker crashing into taxis and bursting into flames, leaving 21 people to burn to death at Kyambura trading centre in Rubirizi District on the Fort Portal Highway.
These numbers seem to fit into a chilling 2014 forecast by Arrive Alive Uganda, which works to lower road traffic fatalities, warning that more than 10,000 people will die on our roads by 2019. This is why it should be now that we work to stop these deaths. And this burden falls squarely on the shoulders of traffic police to cut back these deaths.
But no less should be our responsibilities as passengers and real victims of these deaths on our roads.
Lamentably, as these deaths become pronounced, we are also loudly hearing the silence of Fika Salaama operation. This rigorous joint enforcement of traffic order by the police, the army’s Special Forces, Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), State House, and the courts, had significantly cut back the number of deaths on our roads.
Once more, the agencies should trigger the daily checks of road permits, drivers’ licences, vehicles’ roadworthiness, and waving down speeding cars.
Besides, the Transport Licensing Board (TLB), should reinforce withdrawing of badges from errant drivers. These badges are marks of public service drivers’ professionalism, approval of competence, self-regulation, and certification of being accountable to passengers. Similarly, TLB and traffic police should get back to their strict supervision of bus route charts, no overloading, and observance of stopovers for checks.
Also, Unra and traffic police should ensure strict use of designated bus and taxi stops as opposed to the current haphazard pick-up and drop-off of passengers on any stretch of the road.
Similarly, there must be strict adherence to locating of markets off the roads to avoid similar catastrophes as witnessed at Rubirizi where hordes of market goers and shoppers perished in the inferno.
Indeed, these measures, while not exhaustive, should go a long way in reducing deaths on our roads.
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