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Police bringing life to deadly roads

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th December 2003 03:00 AM

A look through any of the Uganda’s newspapers will reveal many depressing and horrific road accidents that are usually caused by speeding

A look through any of the Uganda’s newspapers will reveal many depressing and horrific road accidents that are usually caused by speeding

By Fred Nangoli

A look through any of the Uganda’s newspapers will reveal many depressing and horrific road accidents that are usually caused by speeding.

The Ministry of Works Transport and Communications reports those speeding accidents now rival with HIV/AIDS and malaria in killing thousands of Ugandans a year.

Between January and November 2003, a total of 13,051 speeding accidents have been reported that caused 1,304 deaths and 8,099 injuries. Statistics also show that more horrific speeding accidents occurred in April, August and September.

The September accident caused the unforgettable tragedies of the Katuna bus accident that claimed the lives of 54 passengers.

The incident was at Kyonyo, one of the most notorious accident spots near the Uganda-Rwanda boarder.

The Kampala-bound bus collided with a UN truck, forcing it to overturn and crash into an unoccupied house.

And on April 14, many people died in a taxi at Matuga on the Kampala-Gulu Highway, after the vehicle collided with an Isuzu tipper lorry.

The police have since declared the spot located immediately after Matuga Trading Centre as a “black spot.”

The cause of the accident was also speeding.

Two days after the Matuga episode, 12 other people died at Kyengera on the Masaka-Kyotera Highway.

This was after a speeding Coca-Cola lorry rammed into a commuter taxi. The police blamed the accident on speeding.

In another similar speeding accident, 16 people died at Namasoga on the Jinja-Iganga Highway.

This was after their taxi overturned when the vehicle’s tyre burst. The taxi later plunged into a swamp, and the passengers drowned.

Before a month could elapse, 18 people crushed in Mityana while travelling in a speeding truck that overturned at Bamunanika.

The other horrendous incidents are the Mukura accident in Kumi that killed six district officials from Moroto. Their double cabin pick-up was travelling at a high speed when it collided with a truck.

The pick-up was damaged beyond recognition.

In Bugembe, on the Jinja-Iganga Highway, seven people died after a speeding school van owned by Muljibhai Madhvani rammed into a stationary Fuso truck.

Also in Jinja, another speeding pick-up truck plunged into a dam and killed four security guards on board.

The Lugazi incident that claimed the lives of a family of seven when their pick-up truck collided with a Fuso lorry. The family was returning from a burial in Mayuge.

The Kibaale disaster on the Kampala-Kagadi Road that claimed the lives of eight people, and injured 50 people is another incident that cannot go unnoticed. The incident was on the Kampala-Kagadi Road where a Fuso truck crashed after one of its springs broke down.

The others accidents on record include the deaths of eight people in Mabira Forest early this month when a trailer rammed into a commuter taxi, and the gruesome incidents at Namagunga that claimed more than five people –– one involving a speeding truck that rammed into a taxi.

And lastly, a trailer rammed into a house killing three children who were asleep at the time when the trailer crashed into their house.

The Regional Traffic Police Officer Kampala Extra Region, Gabriel Tibayungwa says an average of 15,000 speeding accidents are reported every year.

Police records show that between 1988 and 2001, an average of 1,650 people died in speeding road accidents each year. Also, 2,017 people died in 2002 alone.

Tibayungwa says an average of 25 people are killed in motor vehicle speeding accidents every month.

According to the police, most of the accidents within the city are head-to-tail, while those on the outskirts of the city are head-on collisions.

The Police points an accusing finger reckless drivers, drunken drivers and engaging in cell phone conversations while driving as some of the other causes of road accidents.

A World Health Organisation report released in September 2003 identifies the other causes of road accidents are inadequate road designs, excessive alcohol consumption, drugs, under utilisation of seat belts, unsafe vehicle designs, poor maintenance of cars and roads, insufficient training of vehicle users, and lack of implementation of road safety guides.

Tibayungwa says most of the accident victims are young, energetic men and women below the age of 45.

“The biggest victims are pedestrians, followed by passengers in public service vehicles, cyclist and lastly drivers. Drivers are the least affected, yet for every one dead driver, there are 30 dead pedestrians and six to seven dead passengers,” he explains.

While presiding over the National Road Safety campaign on December 8, State Minister for Transport Hon. Andruale Awuzu said Uganda could have lost about sh300billion in 2002 due to road accidents.

The figures, according to the Minister, arose out of road safety audit, which calculates the cost of accidents in terms of deaths, lost time treatment, vehicle repair and replacement.

However in an effort to curb down the number of road accidents, the Ministry and police have come up with several measures.

The Ministry through the department of Road Agency Formation Unit (RAFU) has identified 58 black spots located on the rural highway and urban arterial road sections of the Kampala-Jinja Road, Kampala-Entebbe Road and Kampala-Masaka Road.

A RAFU official says some of the black spot locations are specific sites like intersections of roadside market areas of Nakawa, Banda and Namawojolo on the Kampala-Jinja Highway, Kalerwe on Gayaza Road and Bwaise and Kawempe on Bombo Road.

The other black spots are road sections of some length such as Mabira Forest on Kampala-Jinja Highway and the Lwera Flats on the Masaka Road.

RAFU, a special semi-autonomous unit in the Ministry, is charged with the responsibility of implementing the major components of the 10-year Road Sector Development Programme.

The unit is gradually taking over the road development functions under the Ministry.

A RAFU official says currently the unit has recruited a consultancy called the Transport Research Laboratory of the UK to implement some aspects of this plan.

RAFU is under a three-year Action Plan, would like to implement a highway code, a driver instructor curriculum, a driving school curriculum formation and the establishment of a road safety unit among others.

To address the immediate problems of daily loss of lives due to accidents caused in black spots, the safety audit recommends that parts of the plan be implemented immediately.

The Ministry also plans to install speed governors for passenger service vehicles and compel only the importation of buses with a built-in speed governor.

The Police, on the other hand, have imported breathalysers, that will be used to test the fitness of drivers. Breathalysers are the UK’s latest and most advanced hand held alcohol detectors, that allows the authorities to accurately measure the fitness of drivers.

The machine, almost the size of a mobile phone, detects drunken drivers.

The Regional Traffic Police Chief says the machines are not adequate in number to be introduced on the road.

Besides, the traffic police have also embarked on a passenger-driver sensitisation programme, that is against excessive loading, speeding and use of vehicles in dangerous mechanical conditions.

Police bringing life to deadly roads

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