Tax vehicle owners to fund best road safety campaigns

Tuesday February 25 2020


By Daniel Kabire

According to the guide for road safety opportunities and challenges for low and middle income country profiles 2020, published by the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility, road crashes in developing countries result in more than 19.63 million deaths and serious injuries, costing the economies more than $1.7 trillion equivalent to 6.5 per cent of the gross domestic product. With only 50 per cent of the global vehicle fleet, developing countries contribute to more than 93 per cent of the total road crash fatalities.
For the year 2018, about 10 people were killed daily in road traffic accidents in Uganda, according to the Annual Police Criminal Report. Other tens of thousands were recorded to survive with injuries ranging from severe to minor save for those that were never captured by the police or any other statistical body.
In 2016, the WHO estimated that, 29 out of every 100,000 Ugandans died as a result of traffic accidents causing an estimated loss of $2.33b, equivalent to 9.6 per cent of the GDP. Beyond the direct monetary loss, traffic accidents come with far-reaching social and psychological challenges that this article may not exhaust.
Of course, the causes of the increasingly high death toll on our roads are well known and include reckless driving, poor drivers, drink-driving, unroadworthiness of most vehicles, poor road design, damaged road surface, lack of sufficient road signage, limited enforcement manpower and, therefore, violation of traffic rules and guidelines by motorists.
The boda boda invasion, especially in urban centres, and the growth of vehicle fleet to more than 1.5 million, has also increased the competition for the right of way putting both motorists and other road users at risk.
Despite efforts put in place by government through the National Road Safety Council, a lot more is desired in implementing the safe system approach, which advocates for safe roads and road sides, safe vehicles and safe road users so as to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal target of halving the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic injuries between 2014 and 2022.
Having cited limited resources as one of the obstacles hindering the country from making the anticipated progress in achieving the 2030 SDG, there is need for stakeholders to think outside the box about how the financing equation could be balanced without straining the current resource envelope. Introduction of a road safety tax, charged on all vehicles at their first time of registration by the revenue authority into a Road Safety Fund, could be applied as a tax rate charged on both new and used vehicle imports with the aim of fully funding the 0.08 per cent of GDP (2019-2030) that is recommended for the National Road Safety Council to facilitate the execution of their mandate. Once implemented, this will not only reduce the number of fatalities and causalities on our roads but also present various economic benefits.
Daniel Kabire,