The people dying are not just statistics, but human beings with families.
By Patrick Bitature
Recently, there was a horrific crash between a bus and a truck on the Masaka-Kampala highway. Looking at the pictures, it is a miracle that we did not have many fatalities.
A week does not go by without news of a major accident on our trunk roads.
I suspect that a combination of poorlymaintained vehicles and improperly trained or inexperienced drivers, driving at breakneck speeds are to blame. A few months ago, there was a suggestion that the new paved roads were not properly designed and were responsible for the accidents.
I think this is a case of poor workmen blaming their tools. According to the recent Police report, 3,194 people were killed in road accidents last year, while 3,051 died in 2017.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), in a report released last month, indicated that Africa is the most death by road accident prone continent in the world, with 26.6 deaths per 100,000.
What is even shocking is that the number on the European continent was 9.3 deaths per 100,000, while the global average is 18.2 per 100,000. Our igures suggest that about nine people are dying daily. That is a taxi every two days or three passenger buses a month.
The people dying are not just statistics, but human beings with families. Something needs to be done urgently. A long time ago on renewal of our road licences, we would get clearance from the directorate of motor vehicles that the car was road worthy.
The same place cleared people to get driving permits. The car inspection stopped when government stopped issuing road licences, choosing to collect the fees from fuel. This was a good policy for the taxman, but one would have to think it has something to do with the increase in road accidents.
We need to strengthen our permit issuing processes. Snuff out any corruption that may exist in getting a permit.
The law should be punitive for passenger service vehicle drivers if they step out of line. Trafic Police should understand the gravity of their responsibility and maintain order on the roads. They should start with calling bodabodas to order, for example.
Our driving training should also be looked into.
Why do we overtake on bends or hills?
Why do we park at undesignated places?
Why can’t we stay in our lanes and not cut off people to make turns where we should not?
These are just off my head. There must be room for a comprehensive study that would recommend more robust action to reduce this bloodletting.
(The author is the chairman of the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda)