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My 10 point program for solving Kampala’s traffic problem

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Added 13th February 2020 12:23 PM

Use Coordinated traffic lights: These are traffic lights that automatically adapt to the traffic flows on the roads and controlled by a traffic control centre.

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Use Coordinated traffic lights: These are traffic lights that automatically adapt to the traffic flows on the roads and controlled by a traffic control centre.

OPINION

By Stephen Asiimwe 

Kampala’s traffic problem can be solved with prudent planning and bold decision making.

Below is my 10 point program for solving Kampala’s Traffic problem. 

Use Coordinated traffic lights: These are traffic lights that automatically adapt to the traffic flows on the roads and controlled by a traffic control centre.

Traffic lights in Kampala are stand-alone traffic lights and essentially none existent since traffic police has to override their use to manually but inefficiently manage the traffic levels.

City Council Managed Buses:

CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT (CBD) Buses need to come under the arm of Kampala City Council. The CBD Buses should be KCCA owned buses. Those servicing the outskirts should have strong ‘open-book accounting’ agreements between the city council and private bus companies.

The payment system and fares would be managed by the City Council and subsidised by the Central Government. The council would also have the power to take over the route if not managed well by the private bus company.

The TONDEKA bus service arrangement which seems to be side-lining the City Council and shrouded in secrecy won’t work. The city has seen it before with Pioneer Buses. The relationship between the City Council and Central Government can be greatly improved as it is currently not helping Kampala.

Bus fare pricing: Buses should be priced very low (even for a student/casual worker) to give every car owner a serious incentive to leave the car at home. It should save them on journey time, cost of travel and avoid the hassle of driving in the city.

Bus lanes: These should be strictly for buses, ambulances and police-on-duty vehicles. Otherwise, it defeats the whole purpose of quickening traffic flows by encouraging passengers to take the bus. This also requires law abiding & respectful driver behaviour.

Bus stop locations: Bus stops should be at designated stops. The current system of kamunyes literally stopping whenever a passenger shouts out to the conductor is not conducive for traffic management.

The distance between stops should be shorter in the Central Business District & much longer outside the Central Business District. A Side note - A former Bank of Uganda Director reminisced on how Kampala used to have double-decker buses before Idi Amin’s days.

If a bus had left the bus stop, you only waited for 15 minutes for another one to come. So it’s possible to have an organised bus system with bus stops in Kampala. Been there, done that!

Free Saturday Public Transport: Days like Saturday should have city managed transport free all day long. This will be both great for the traffic management and the city shops who would have buyers incentivised to shop in the city.

The city council should also have special free night buses on Saturdays to manage transport at night especially those going to the main party areas. This will boost safety of revellers and give loved ones a peace of mind.

Free School Buses: The City Council needs to manage school transport within the city with their own school buses. It’s rather silly for families heading to work to crowd routes early in the morning with private cars heading to the local schools to drop their kids before heading to the office.

Buses need to pick kids along defined routes at two different morning times taking the kids directly to school and two different afternoon times returning them to designated stops close to their homes. This cuts out most of the traffic related to school journeys by working parents.  

Underground/Storied parking: A lot of buildings don’t have underground parking. New buildings/malls need only to be approved if they can provide ample underground parking. Also the City Council needs to purchase empty plots of land that become available to build underground and storied parking.

Phase-out Kamunyes: The days of the Kamunye (blue-white public service vehicles) are really over. They have no long term prospect if Kampala is to be considered a serious Capital City. The vans are generally in a seriously bad condition and pose huge risks to passengers/road users.

Buyout the owners (compensation) and pay out the registered drivers/touts with one year earnings to retrain/find another work field. Burying our heads in the sand on this issue will cause us to make silly and very expensive decisions.

These include suggestions to build a new Capital City and endlessly building flyovers. Seriously!! Imagine the cost of replicating public institutions’ buildings, related services and equivalent residential areas for an entire city.

Build proper road infrastructure: The state of the roads in Kampala is pretty awful. This is a Capital City that’s meant to host serious conferences and be the gateway to tourists.

The bad road infrastructure brings a lot of inefficiencies that affect the national economy. These include lost productive time in traffic jams and poor quality of life. It also gives a very bad image for tourists in the city. For the record, off-roading (driving on rough murram roads – normally a thrill in Western countries) is preferred in designated parks, not in the city.

The choice is in the hands of the different stakeholders to make bold decisions and much needed prudent planning to get the city out of this traffic quagmire. 

 

The writer is a former highways engineer that worked in the United Kingdom. He has been working in Luxembourg in the Investments & Accounting sectors for over 10 years.

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