Finally, somebody somewhere is publicly coming out to realize that there is a traffic jams’ problem in Kampala and its environs. It probably started when the taxi operators, a little over a week ago, blocked President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy near the Clock Tower along Entebbe Road. Then other relevant figures took up the cue.
It may have been immediately about the new tax charges Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) was planning to levy on the taxis, but the incident demonstrated, not just the clogging of the roads, but the wastage of time in work man-hours; and brought into focus the need to address the transportation policies nationally. Evidently, this concerns the effect on the performance of the economy as a whole.
Unless politicians, policy planners, administrators and traffic managers come out in their respective Government roles to sort out the irritating traffic jams now, it may stay with us for a long time to come. There are a number of reasons for this, but may concern the increasingly unregulated number of vehicles on the roads and the inadequacy of the roads themselves.
The mandate falls squarely on the Ministry of Works and Transport, but concerns other stakeholders, too, and, in its immediacy, the Traffic Police. The solution is long overdue: like addressing the KCCA city roads and widening of its transportation system; traffic congestion and road use by the motorists; and, the regulations and management.
It also gets down to the road users, the motorists and other people. Take the case of the bodaboda riders. Can the Traffic Police officers explain why they are outside the control of the traffic laws? And, on some roads, where there are traffic lights, the Traffic officers appear to ignore their emplacement.
They argue that they take precedence over the regulation of the lights, ostensibly because some of the lights are not automatically operated. Then, what is their use? In such a case, it would be better to have only the Traffic Police.
Also, the manner in which the traffic is regulated at the junctions needs a level of sensitivity, so as not to keep alternate motorists queuing for inconsiderate periods. The idea of the Traffic Police on the roads is to keep the traffic moving, but when one observes the operation of these officers, this is not demonstrably the case. At the junctions, often the alternate sides can be kept waiting, even up to, more than ten minutes.
As the vehicle engines are kept running, it also means a wastage of their fuel. Officers should be flagging off vehicles in a time such as the traffic lights are regulated, that is, not more than two minutes – to keep the traffic constantly moving!
Some explain that these officers are under orders to keep vehicles stationary for those inconsiderable times to cause fuel wastage that benefits the corrupt who take kickbacks from the oil companies. In that case, the use of traffic jams is one more lack of a nail in the coffin of Uganda’s corruption.