What you need to know:
- The issue: Road safety
- Our view: A critical assessment of our road traffic conditions is long overdue and without it, all actions taken in isolation will be but a mere band aid to a festering wound.
Daily, there are reports of road accidents, injury, conflict and sadly, loss of life. A few days ago a motorist lost his life in a scuffle following a road accident in the outskirts of the city.
The incident involved the motorist and several cyclists. An episode which could have been otherwise resolved turned hostile and ultimately tragic.
A joint survey by Makerere University, Uganda Police Force and the Ministry of Works this year between February and June found that 89 percent of boda boda cyclists do not have riding permits and that at least 10 percent ride under the influence of illicit drugs.
However, the cyclists are not entirely to blame for everything that is wrong on our roads. Starting from the structure and condition of our roads to law enforcement and lately, the time restrictions under curfew, should all be factored in as we assess the degeneration of our traffic situation.
Beyond the abovementioned, there are countless hazards on our roads, including road maintenance crews working with improper signage and little safety consideration in conditions of poor visibility such as approaching nightfall. Thus, an entire review of our transport system is in order.
The piecemeal approach of pinpointing one factor at a time will not be effective. Boda bodas do not ride in isolation.
They interact with the available road space, users and the law.
The challenge will be in making the roads work for everybody while observing the law and safety requirements.
It is a tall order but absolutely critical in saving lives, reducing cost of treatment for injuries and guaranteeing the mental well-being of all who use our roads.
A critical assessment of our road traffic conditions is long overdue and without it, all actions taken in isolation will be but a mere band aid to a festering wound.
Institutions and professionals qualified to do this work are in existence and should be encouraged to study our problems and propose solutions which then need the political will to be effectively implemented.
Our planning structures currently do not seem to see the link between, for example, attracting visitors to the country and having same roads and spaces via which they can travel and enjoy their stay.
Plans for registration and regulation of the motorcyclists have been mooted and postponed, allowing an already growing challenge to get worse.
Comprehensive urban planning interventions should be urgently adopted to address the many issues that plague our roads, turning them into perpetually unsafe spaces that are driving up injury and death rates.