Uganda Traffic Police Releases the 2021 Annual Crime Report – Our Roads Remain A Death Trap Every Year!

Every year Uganda Police releases to the public, The Annual Crime Report. Within the report is The Road Traffic Report as well.

Surprisingly road traffic crashes continue to be on the rise, with number of fatalities equally increasing year in  year out. Boda boda and pedestrains maintaining a record of the most affected road user category in Uganda.

Interestingly, over 80% of these crashes are consistently linked to careless and reckless driving! Meaning human error!. Given that a minimum of 3,500 people are killed on road crashes yearly for over 5 years now, by 2032 we shall have lost 35,000 people on our roads and the most annoying is that majority of those killed or disabled are young males in their ages of productivity(19-44years) with Government, their communities, family and friends benefiting from their being alive. The above number equals three and half Nambole stadium fans full to capacity of 10,000 people during a match, in just the next 10 years.

One would guess that the annual reports would support the country to improve the statusque based on the evidence of statistics; by formulating recommendations and corresponding intervention plan based on the revelation of the findings as released in the reports. If this assumption is right? Why then does the trend remain the same or even continues worsening as it is?

Every year The Inspector of Vehicles issues driver licenses now permits to over 150,000 people and out of these about 65,000 are Passenger and goods vehicle drivers. A quick question here would be, for example-out of the PSV and Goods vehicle drivers approved by I.O.V against the number of licensed schools and their capacities (one truck/bus can only train 15 trainees for a minimum period of 3 weeks)! Government has not for example regulated dealers of motorcycles to ensure that buyers prove their ability to operate them and also include things like compulsory 2 helmets (for passenger and rider).

Recently, The UN Road Safety Performance Review Report 2018 indicated serious issues with driver training standards in Uganda and actually declared it dysfunctional!

As we talk, there is no licensed training school in Uganda training driver trainers! Where then do our driver trainers get trained from and who regulates the quality and standards of their training! For Bus and Truck  driver training, the licensed schools can not manage to sustain the market as the cost of operation is high and the fact that drivers are not restricted to only using their channel; there is no motivation for the trainees to go through the schools and even those who go through the schools often decide what exact training they want (I want to learn how to reverse a truck/bus and I have this amount!). The schools are at the mercy of the clients and since no body is monitoring the standards, many schools are left with no option other than selling certificates to survive!

Globally, last year 2021 we (Uganda inclusive) started the second decade of action on road traffic deaths and injuries with a target of reducing road crashes, deaths and serious injuries by 50%. Last year, during The UPDN annually organised World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims; our Minister for Transport-Gen.Katumba Wamala actually agreed that the target of 50% could even be achieved in just 5 years!

Given the situation explained above and statistical evidence from Uganda Traffic Police Reports, it is clear that road crashes is now beyond Government control alone and requires everyone including myself and you and every  private sector player not forgetting target users. This is because over 95% of us use the road to access the markets, schools, hospitals and our work places; we need to feel safe even before we use them!

How about if as stakeholders, we just decided that enough is enough Government can not only continue bringing regulations and laws focussing on raising taxes, while police also only concentrates on enforcement then civil society players also always just seen as blaming and complaining then all the industry stakeholders chose to work together and sharing responsibilities including knowledge.

Let us address the human error(reckless and careless) driving, careless pedestrains, etc by seriously overhauling driver training processes in Uganda and focussing on having in place a training school for trainers even under the Management of Government, tailored road users’ awareness programs and sensitisation, Government considering offering subsidies and enablers for licensed training schools, reviewing and adopting a standardised curriculum for both fresh and refresher driver training programs then regulating quality and standards of the same. The Budget should not be the issue as we collect about Twenty two billion URA from driver license issuance alone and also police collects over Seven Billion and non of these resources is reinvested in having a resilient road transport industry.

Nonetheless as we wait upon our Government to do its part by possibly considering some of these our opinions formed from evidence based findings, all of us should become road safety champions and advocates and insist that Road Safety should form part of our discussions everywhere; churches/mosques, schools, business forums, markets including in community events as marriage/death ceremonies if we are to reverse this worrying trend of 10 people being killed on our roads in Traffic crashes and up to 8 from the 10 resulting from carelessness or recklessness of those behind the wheels! This is unacceptable in this 21st century!

Road crashes are often sudden and tragic leaving immediate family members, dependants and friends with a minimum of 8 years to recover and start living normally from the impact of sudden deaths of crash victims, according to research.

“Roads have stories!.” “No body ought to get killed on our roads due to some one else’ human error crashes in 2022/3 moving forward, we need to live our lives together as family, friends and communities.”

The 50% reduction target shall not come as a miracle but a process that starts by our next Traffic crash report indicating 10% or 20% or 30% reduction to reflect the desired journey to 50% in the next 5 or 10 years as the Minister and global plan respectively anticipate.

“If you can not be disciplined on the road then where else can you be as this is a matter of life and death” Mr. OMONGO NDUGU- Executive Director Uganda Professional Drivers’ Network (UPDN).