A lot is being said about the new Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment) Bill 2019. For now, the focus is on taming errant drivers through harsh punishments such as increased fines, withdrawal of licences and imprisonment.
I believe we all agree that recklessness on our roads has tremendously increased and every measure should be taken to address the situation. I am sure the people concerned have carried out complete problem analysis based on facts such as majority of accidents arising from commuter taxis, heavy trucks (trailers) and motorcycles.
It is important that each entity plays its part in making our roads safe. I drive daily, but I am frustrated that many of our roads only get marked in preparation for their commissioning. The marks are not regularly painted and any new user on the road is bound to make mistakes.
At times, a traffic officer will wave down a driver and ask them why they are driving beyond the recommended speed limit or overtaking at a solid line, when in actual fact, the marks are not visible. The traffic officer knows that the mark or line exists only by memory. Not all motorists are frequent users of some roads.
Yet a number of our roads, including those in peri-urban areas such as Ntinda-Namugongo, Nakawa-Kireka-Mukono, and the Kampala-Jinja road, among others, hardly have any visible markings. An example is the climbing lane after Mt St Mary’s Namagunga on Jinja highway. It is evident that because the marks have faded, the climbing lane, which should be used by motorists heading to Jinja, is also used by those heading to Kampala. The possibility of a head-on collision in such a circumstance, becomes possible.
Another perfect example is the Northern Bypass. The ongoing extension has eaten into the road with barricades placed on the sides at many points. However, the central road markings are not visible, given the absence of lighting. Night and early morning driving on this road is now a nightmare. This challenge applies at Zebra Crossings. While some pedestrians as well as motorists know where Zebra Crossings are, many visitors to the area will not know about their existence and this is very risky.
However, new roads such as the Musita-Namayingo-Busia, where the markings are still clear, the driving experience there is very different. Without road markings and signs, it becomes difficult for motorists to use a specific road.