By Simon J. Mone
The increasing traffic volume on Uganda’s roads and highways potentially presents a higher likelihood of delays while travelling, confusion, congestion and accidents which many times motorists have to painfully deal with.
You have roads composed of both motorised and non-motorised traffic, all meddled up. Since there is no distinction between sections of roads for vehicular movement only and those meant for cycles and pedestrians, all road users jam the only available road.
At street light junctions, when green lights show clearing the way for one side of the traffic, the situation always gets out of hand for traffic police. Boda-boda riders cross from one side of the street to another, mixing up with pedestrians thereby impeding vehicular traffic. Taxi drivers park on walkways and on main road sections which reduces efficiency.
This creates a real problem for traffic police and wardens. While proposed improvements by Kampala Capital City Authority will go a long way in solving transportation problems on the city streets, the Government should consider the following key things. Supervise the process that driving schools use to churn out drivers.
Organisational competence of such driving schools should be assessed to find out the adequacy of training given to potential road users.
Educate road users about the true, not perceived meaning of road signage and remind the public about the benefit of continuously following traffic regulations. For planned developments, there must be a deliberate awareness approach that involves recipients of such projects.
This makes them feel a part of such developments and encourages the public to provide solutions that when implemented will reduce road congestion and accidents.
It also ensures better discipline of road use and a sustainable public transport resulting in safe movements for school-going children that are vulnerable to accidents while walking to school.
Special need pedestrians including persons with disability will also enjoy some right of way. Traffic laws and regulations have to be made easily accessible and clear to the public. Possibly, publish regulations to improve its accessibility.
The Government can achieve this through rigorous formal education in schools and monitoring activities of driving schools. An impact assessment of driving schools to ascertain whether skills being given to potential drivers meet government standards will also help. Laws and regulations have to be enforced with the aim of ensuring road use discipline and safety.
De-congestion of traffic in the city will provide a workable solution but will only go so far before the same problems recur.
Limited funding means current maintenance practices do not adequately address our persistent traffic and transportation problems. It, therefore, results in road facilities deteriorating faster. The little money available should finance better roads and associated facilities.
It should be spent on regular inspection and maintenance to ensure efficient serviceability of roads. Pavement defects, street lighting, signage and markings should also be properly managed. Vehicle owners should also be educated to regularly maintain them to avoid driving mechanically unfit machines.
During infrastructure design, separate walkways/cycleway from the main carriageway and provide clear signage for all categories of road users.
In order to improve the attractiveness of public transportation, public means should be deliberately made to have more allure than private means. Use strict and deterrent parking procedures for private cars in order to discourage their use on city roads.
The public will then be motivated to jump on public buses and taxis. Provide incentives such as subsidies for public transportation to encourage sustainable use public transportation.
The writer is a civil engineer