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Civil society wants accident-free roads in 2016

By John Semakula

Added 8th January 2016 08:43 AM

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution proclaiming that the decade 2011-2020 was a Decade of Action for Road Safety.

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In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution proclaiming that the decade 2011-2020 was a Decade of Action for Road Safety.

The rampant fatalities on roads in Uganda have attracted the attention of different stakeholders who are now seeking serious mitigation measures to reduce accidents in 2016
The latest group to join the campaign to reduce road fatalities is made of 25 civil society organisations. The group is demanding that government comes up with tough mitigation measures.

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution proclaiming that the decade 2011-2020 was a Decade of Action for Road Safety.

But a report released in October, 2015 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that Uganda is still one of the countries on the globe with the highest road fatalities per 100,000 people on the globe.

The 25 civil societies under their umbrella body Civil Society Coalition on Transport-Uganda (CISCOT), unveiled their demands at a press conference held at Transparence International head offices in Ntinda on Wednesday.
The demands include increasing traffic Police officers on road in the country and implementing the non-motorised transport policy which government promulgated in 2012.

The chairperson of CISCOT, Patrick Kayemba, noted that insufficient man power of traffic officers has greatly affected traffic management and speeded up accidents.

Kayemba explained that in a survey they conducted in Masaka and Mbale districts recently, they discovered that the number of traffic police officers on roads is too small to supervise traffic.

“We established that Mbale has got only six traffic officers while Masaka has eight which isn’t enough to combat traffic related offenses causing accidents,” he said.

But the Director of traffic in Uganda Police, Stephen Kasiima told Sunday Vision that the problem is not small numbers of traffic officers but poor technology.

Kasiima who said Uganda is better than many other countries in the region in traffic management including Tanzania and Rwanda said the country needs more patrol vehicles and cameras on the roads than anything else.
He explained that in 2011 before Police reduced traffic police officers because of the rampant corruption; the department had about 2000 personnel but did not stop 3500 people from perishing on the roads.
Kasiime added that when most of the countries are using streetlights to control traffic in the city, Uganda’s traffic officers are relying on whistles.
In their campaign, the civil societies decried the huge human resource losses in road accidents.
Citing the 2014 Police traffic report, Kayemba noted that 2,845 people perished in accidents that year alone while 13,516 others were seriously injured.

The most recent fatal accidents to occur on Ugandan roads happened in December during the festive season. They involved a fatal accident on Kampala-Masaka highway that claimed the life of the youthful Bukomansimbi woman MP Suzan Namaganda.

The other accident involved a bus carrying Uganda Cranes football team that rammed into a moving taxi in Eastern Uganda, leaving several people dead.
The civil society organisations are demanding that government constructs pathways for non-motorised road users to reduce congestion of cars on roads in urban areas.

The organisations have also called upon government to slash down on the taxes imposed on bicycles to make them more affordable to Ugandans.

A bicycle in Uganda costs between sh100,000 to sh1m. Kayemba noted that almost 38% of the cost of bicycles is government tax that should either be reduced or scrapped.
The civil societies further want government to work on the upcountry roads to ensure that they are in a better state. The secretary general of CISCOT, Stuart Mutabazi asked government to plan in advance before importing road units for districts to work on their roads.

Mutabazi noted that most of the road units Uganda imported from China at $100m have stopped working and are parked at the district headquarters due to mechanical issues.

President Yoweri Museveni recently revealed that government will purchase another consignment of road units from Japan to replace those from China.

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