The month of August 2019 is on track to becoming the deadliest period, at least so far this year, in as far as road carnage is concerned. More than ten accidents involving mass transport vehicles such as buses, Kamunye taxis and other vehicles have been involved in accidents on different roads across the country that have resulted into the loss of dozens of innocent lives.
But as some have argued before, the causes of this needless loss of life and valuable property are preventable mistakes arising from human error. They could therefore be right to say that ours are not accidents but rather mistakes.
Preliminary reports by the police so far indicate that the primary causes of the accidents are traffic related; vehicles in unroadworthy conditions, such as the fuel tanker that failed to break at Kyambura trading centre in Rubirizi district on Aug 18, and crashed into three other vehicles before it exploded into flames. Y.Y coaches, a dominant public transport player in Eastern region but also links with Kampala, has had a rough period recently with a spate of accidents that have left more than 16 people dead and dozens more injured in four separate incidents. An account from some of the people familiar with the company point to lack of resting period on the part of the drivers and the vehicles.
The testimony by the turn-man of the D.R.Congo-bound tanker reveals that both the driver and his turn-man were aware of the mechanical problems with their truck but still went ahead with the journey to move dangerous fuel on the road in clear violation of traffic rules.
In other traffic incidents recorded this month, the police has revealed that reckless driving, including over-taking against traffic rules has been another cause of fatal accidents.
All signs point to abdication of responsibility on the part of duty bearers; the police, the drivers, the ministry of works officials as well as passengers. Corruption has gotten the better side of our traffic officers on the roads that we entrust with stopping the violators of traffic rules.
We’ve seen it many times when drivers of taxis shake hands with traffic police officers who willingly take the bribes to let the law-breakers free.
This is a humble appeal to the leadership of Uganda Police Force to save Ugandans by cracking the whip on whoever violates traffic rules. This, the force can do by instituting mobile traffic police patrols and abandon the stationary check points. The traffic police officers have a bad habit of situating in a given spot for months and in the process, motorists get to know where to drive carefully or not. More importantly, the mobile traffic officers should desist from corruption tendencies.
As we get to the end of the year, we’re worried that if nothing is done, the accidents will kill even more of our people. For this reason, we appeal to Police to revive operationUsalama on all major highways.
We also appeal to the Ministry of works and transport as well as officials from the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to play their role in preventing road accidents.
To the ministry of works, should revive mandatory vehicle inspection more so for buses, heavy trucks and taxis with the view to seriously removing unroadworthy vehicles from the roads.
UNRA too have a duty to prevent accidents by ensuring that the roads are kept in good condition. Many times we’ve seen that reluctance on the part of UNRA to remove silt from the sides of the roads as well as pots holes, are a major cause of accidents in those spots as motorists and bodaboda riders try to avoid them.
Members of the general public must also remain vigilant to ensuring the rightful use of the road, reporting any potholes and beached roads and report drivers and vehicles they suspect to be breaking the law.
In this age of improved technology, we cannot be dying needlessly on roads when we can surely avoid it. The police can make use of the widely spread CCTV cameras to track vehicles that over-speed or those that have a bad record. Together we make road transport a much safer means of travel than it is today.