The new road design at the Fairway Hotel junction in Kampala has as many admirers as it has foes.
Motorists negotiating the Fairway junction. Photo by Nelson Naturinda
By Carol Natukunda, Catherine Lutwama, Nelson Naturinda and Keneth Niwamanya
Road engineers say it’s a godsend. But some drivers find it confusing. The new road design at the Fairway Hotel junction in Kampala has as many admirers as it has foes.
Instead of the traditional roundabout, an intersection of streets has now been installed. This is intended to ease Traffic flowing in to Yusuf Lule Road from Kafu road, Golf course and Sezibwa roads.
For a regular pedestrian such as Yowasi Katsigaire, it means that he has to suddenly stop and decide whether to go left, right or straight ahead.
“It is crazy. We are used to the circles (roundabouts). Now you never know where to cross from, and you keep looking here and there, fearing you could be knocked down by a speeding car,” says Katsigaire.
Geoffrey Kiweewa, a boda boda cyclist at Fairway Hotel stage also has mixed feelings. He has seen enraged motorist incessantly hoot and hurl insults at each other, especially during the morning and evening rush.
“It is confusing. The drivers realise they are in the wrong lanes when they are already at the intersection and they get trapped.
“They are good drivers, but the structure is complicated. I am not sure of how traffic lights will operate because the streets seem to be intersecting at different spots. I am equally confused yet I have been using this roundabout for years,” says Kiweewa.
“No more traffic jam”
However, Samson Mukiibi the site engineer is upbeat. “We have to change the mindset and move with the times. Intersections like these will get rid of traffic, the congestion and unnecessary road rage,” says Mukiibi.
“Roundabouts are old fashioned. They were built in the 1950s when there were fewer cars. That is now history,” says Mukiibi.
Uganda Revenue Authority estimates that there are about 1 million cars in Uganda, with about three quarters of them in Kampala.
Mukiibi reveals that more roundabouts in the city are being redesigned to create more space and ease traffic.
- The Makerere-Bakuli-Nankulabye
- Kiira Road Police Station
- The Mulago Hospital roundabout, among others.
Last week, Kampala Capital City Authority Jennifer Musisi said this was part of the infrastructure development project funded by the World Bank; to ease mobility in the city. https://goo.gl/XXKO53
Mukiibi observes: “If we only dismantle one roundabout and leave the others, we will not be solving the problem because the roads are interconnected.”
“Be wary of accidents”
Mukiibi appeals to motorists to be patient and have a change in attitude.
“We are at 95% of completion. Once we fix the traffic lights and put up road signs everything will be okay. People just need to plan where they are going before they set off from their offices and homes, so they do not get confused at intersections,” says Mukiibi
A traffic officer who spoke on condition of anonymity is encouraging road users to take a second look at the intersections to get familiar with the lanes.
He notes that driving at intersections is complex with the potential to cause accidents.
“However, you must know the road signs. When you violate the rules, you have to face the law. That could include paying up to a sh100,000 fine or even be taken to court,” he said.