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Road accidents higher during Christmas season

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th December 2008 03:00 AM

Christmas and accidents seem to go together in Uganda, police say. And that is why you need to be careful.

Christmas and accidents seem to go together in Uganda, police say. And that is why you need to be careful.

By Paul Kiwuuwa
Christmas and accidents seem to go together in Uganda, police say. And that is why you need to be careful.

In Uganda, Christmas means travel, to Kampala for shopping, others from urban workplaces to villages for the holidays and others move around merry making.

In the process, many people lose their lives and miss out on the New Year. According to the Police, most fatal traffic accidents around Christmas are due to driving under the influence of alcohol.

The deputy traffic chief for Kampala extra, James Wakooli, says other causes are speeding, reckless driving, reckless riding by and pedal-cyclists and driving vehicles in poor mechanical condition.

People travelling upcountry must be careful because many roads are undergoing repair and others may have slippery surfaces. Works minister John Nasasira has warned the public to be patient.

The Police say December is usually a bad accident month.

In just two weeks, there have been 12 fatal road accidents which have claimed 17 lives. Five other people died in bodaboda crashes.

“We expect more fatal road accidents by the end of the year, due to increased volume of vehicles, bodabodas and the poor state of roads countrywide.” Wakoli explained.

Police records also indicate that during the last Christmas season, 29 people died in fatal accidents, while 382 people were seriously injured. Eighteen pedestrians also died in ‘hit and run’ accidents country wide.

This was an increase from 2006. Police records indicate 19 fatal road accidents occurred, 5 motor-cyclists died, 57 were seriously injured, and five had minor injuries.

In 2004, 25 people died (13 on the Christmas day) and 18 were critically injured.

The Police say Kampala –Entebbe road is the most prone to accidents, with black spots at Kibuye trading centre, Zana roundabout, Sseguku –Kajansi, Bwebajja, Kawuku and Kisubi up to Nkumba University.

“Entebbe road is dual carriage. Drivers are always in a hurry to board planes at Entebbe Airport,” Wakooli explained.

He added that many people visit Entebbe for fun at Lido, Lutembe, Nabinonya and other beaches and bars and drive back under the influence of alcohol.

He singled out Kibuye with many pedestrians crossing the at a roadside market and motorcyclists entering the road recklessly.

In 2004, four people died and 20 were seriously injured when their minibus rammed into a Kenyan fuel truck in Lwera on Masaka road.

Another dangerous route is the Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara road. Police singles out Lwera, 96km on Masaka road, where speeding is the main cause of accidents, because the road is flat in that area.

Kyengera, a busy trading centre, with a T junction, a roadside market and vehicles parked on either side of the road, is also dangerous.

Kampala-Jinja-Mbale road is another road to be careful about. Mabira forest has sharp bends, and the trees form a canopy which makes the bends invisible. There are also dangerously loaded sugar cane tractors with poor signals.

In December 2004, seven people were burnt to death, while eight were critically injured when a mini bus collided with an Isuzu pick up truck at Namagumba, seven miles on Sironko –Mbale road.

Around the same time, 12 people died when a fuel tanker collided with two trailers and a pick-up truck on Jinja-Iganga road, at Magamaga in Mayuge district.

In 2003, eight people died and 13 were seriously injured when a trailer rammed into a commuter taxi in Mabira forest on the Jinja highway.

The national chairman Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Associations John Ndyomugyenyi says they have sensitised their drivers against speeding and overloading and ensuring that all their vehicles are in good mechanical condition.

The Regional Traffic police officer for Kampala Extra Lawrence Niwabine advises:

l Don’t just buy a vehicle and use it for a long distance journey. First take it for mechanical check up and certification, however good it looks physically.

l Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol.

l Read road signs, respect animal crossings, bend warnings and black spot areas.

l Beware of roadside markets with traders crossing roads suddenly to sell their merchandise.

l Passengers must report drivers deemed to be under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

l Pedestrians must also be careful when crossing roads and should avoid shoulders on highways.

Road accidents higher during Christmas season

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