What you need to know:
The festivities are here and this is the time most of us travel upcountry or to other destinations to enjoy the festivities. As you look out for these dark spots, remember that the best thing to do is to drive within the set speed limits.
On average, Uganda loses 10 to 12 people per day due to road crashes. Some of these crashes happen at black spots, which are also sometimes known as dark spots.
For instance, on December 18, the territorial police at Kayabwe on Masaka Road registered a fatal crash at Nabusanke that claimed four lives; the driver of a Toyota Fielder and two other occupants. The fourth victim died on the way to Nkozi Hospital. According to traffic police investigations, the crash was attributed to careless driving.
“The driver of the Toyota Fielder from Masaka was overtaking. They hit a road hump and rammed into the bus that was in its lane heading to Masaka,” the police statement partly reads.
Unfortunately, Nabusanke is one of the many places that is designated by traffic police on a long list of black spots across the country.
Faridah Nampiima, the spokesperson of the traffic directorate defines a black spot as a place where there are at least five or more recorded road crashes, one after another regardless of the duration in-between. Sometimes, declaring a place a black spot takes time (a month or year), although it could be also be within a matter of days.
Countrywide, Nampiima says, there are 32 known black spots on major highways leading out of and to Kampala, which are located mostly at Fika Salama checkpoints.
Some of the black spots on Masaka Road include Mitala Maria junction, Mbizinya, Kalandazi, Buwama, Nabusanke at the centre, Nabyewanga, Mukoko, Kabale-Bugonzi, popularly known as Basudde corner, Kaddugala and Kibukuta at the junction after the swamp, among others.
Black spots on Jinja Road include Kitega, the whole of Mabira Forest, Kitigoma, Bulyantete, Mbiko, Nyenga, Namagunga and Kalandazi, among others, while those on Bombo Road include Kakerenge, Sinalya, Kibisi-Wobulenzi, Kikoma, Kiwumpa, Nakazi, Kyevunze, Ndibulungi, Ngaju, Kakinzi and Nalongo, among others.
On Mityana Road, look out for Gyeza, Kiwawu, Ttamu, Ndibulungi, Wabigalo, Buswabulongo, Busimbi junction, Kikumbi, Naama and Mpamujjugu swamp, among others.
Some of the black spots on Hoima Road include Kizigo after Kikandwa, Matte at the T-junction, Wangoma, Namigavu, Kanyale, Bukalammuli, Kikunyu, Sekanyonyi, Mayanja River and Wamika, towards Kiboga. From Busunju to Kampala, black spots include Kyanuma, Namayumba, Mwera, Kikandwa-Kakiri, Ggobero and Nakyerongoose, among others.
According to Nampiima, most of these black spots are located at corners or long straight stretches that are synonymous with attracting speed. The stretches could also be descending points where vehicles go downhill as if in free roll mode. For example, the Rugombe to Katobire stretch on the Kyenjojo to Fort Portal Road is one of such places. It is approximately 15kms from Kyenjojo Town as you drive towards Fort Portal.
Motorists from Fort Portal drive downhill at high speeds. As they start driving uphill towards Kyenjojo Town, they encounter a bend and when one fails to successfully negotiate the curve, they roll down into the valley in the oncoming traffic direction, which is approximately 100 metres deep from the main road. It is evident because the guardrails that would have kept vehicles on the road have all been knocked.
“Do not reduce speed only after seeing a traffic police officer or at a checkpoint. It has to be at every point you believe speed is not required. Whether you are knowledgeable about a given road or not, slow down since all roads will have constant traffic during the festive season,” Nampiima advises. Apart from straight stretches, hilltops can also be black spots. This is because motorists in the oncoming and outgoing traffic lanes cannot see clearly what is on the other side of the hill regardless of their driving speed.
Paul Kwamusi, a road safety consultant, says regardless of whether it is your first time driving on the highway or have been driving for some time, approach every corner and junction with an alert mind because you do not know what is ahead. This is because highways are synonymous with broken down vehicles you may ram into when driving at high speeds.
“When you ram into a broken down vehicle at a slow speed, there are high chances of survival. Your vehicle may be damaged but you will not sustain serious injuries. This is only possible if you drive at recommended speed limits,” Kwamusi says.
Respect road signs
Some of the life-saving road signs include those that warn you when approaching corners, road humps, speed and trading centres. These and others require you to slow down.
For instance, the maximum driving speed on all highways in Uganda is 80km/hr. When you drive above this speed and you are involved in, say, a head on collision, your body as a driver or occupant, especially when not wearing a seatbelt, will be ejected out of your vehicle at the same speed at which you are driving.
When driving on roads that are under construction or maintenance, it is important that you follow guidance from traffic marshals since some road sections are closed off.
Masaka to Mbarara: Entrance to Mbarara, Bushenyi, Ntungamo – Rukungiri junction and Kabale.
Kampala – Mityana highway: Kiwawu, Kyengeza, Zigoti, Kagavu, Nakitooro, Ndibulungi, Wabigalo, Buswabulongo, Kikumbi, Naama and Kamajungo swamp.
Kampala – Gulu: Kakerenge, The Sanamu valley, Sinalya, Nkondo, Kibisi – Kaswa, Kikoma, Busanza – Lukomera, Kiwumpa – Naluvule, Kasana – Luwero, Nakazzi – Kyevunze and Nakasongola.
Tirinyi Road: Busharifu, Nawaibete, Karamira, Kadankala and Mpologoma Bridge.
Iganga to Busia: Namasoga, Walugogo, Nakavule and Busesa.
In Bugiri: Kibimba Bridge, Idudi hump and Busoba swamp.