As the clock clicks towards Christmas, preparations are in high gear on how to make this festive season a memorable one. Opinions are usually divided about where to spend the holiday, though to a considerable lot, village comes top on the bucket list.
This is so because it is the only time that one gets to see his long lost friends and relatives.
Despite the comfort of riding at your behest, such road trips can be horrific for those that do not do their homework.
Chimp reports spoke to a number of drivers who recollected their debut trips upcountry.
As a rule of thumbs, Ali Haider a Kampala based engineer warns those driving up country for the very first time against going minus subjecting their vehicles to mechanical service. According to Haider, only a mechanical assessment can tell if one’s car brakes, engine, pressure gauge and fluid levels are up to the required motoring standards.
Furthermore he says that as a must, drivers must ensure that the vehicle tyre pressure levels are up to the mark otherwise it could result into the unfortunate.
“Usually when overfilled tyres come into contact with hot driving surfaces such as asphalt, they (tyres) are likely to burst. In case, one is driving at a high speed, then this could result into a deadly accident”, Haider cautions.
To prevent this, Haider advises drivers to avoid over loading and take occasional stops to allow the engine to cool.
Besides that, Haider says long trip drivers must ensure that they undertake safari checks before hitting the trail.
Carry Spare parts
There is no worst phenomenon like finding yourself stranded in a remote location with no nearby garages. Joram Waswa a chocolate complexioned man of robust stature is one of those who still reels at the thought of such journeys. Eight years ago, he was hired to transport some travelers to a remote village in ragged Rukungiri.
Off he went but with just less than hour to his destination, he found himself stranded after the hind tyre of his Toyota Premio suffered. Worse still, he had not carried a spare tyre.
“I could not believe what had befallen me as I had no spare tyre and did not know where to purchase one. After deep contemplation, I jumped on a boda boda to get one from a garage that was almost ten miles away at Kisiizi trading centre”, he explains remorsefully.
By the time he was done with all repairs it was approaching 9:00 pm. Since then, motor vehicle service and carrying potable spare are among things that he considers in case such a task props up.
Waswa is not alone; Peterson Kabogo a cargo transporter says that he has suffered three tyre bursts in his decade old career. He says the first occurred two years ago close to Mutukula border crossing while the most recent took place in Kijura village, Kabarole district.
What saved him on all these occasions was that he had carried spare tyres with him.
Nothing is mind boggling like travelling to an area totally illusive of its weather and climatic conditions. Simon Okia a regular tour driver speaks distastefully about an incident he witnessed three years ago.
Okia says that on the fateful day he received a call to make arrangements for a journey to Murchison Falls National park. Since it was a dry season, Okia opted to leave his jacket behind opting for a short sleeved shirt.
However as he drew closer to the park, he started dozing on the wheels only to be told that it was the effect of tsetse fly bites.
“My first journey to Murchison falls was horrific. As we were approaching the park I got bitten by tsetse flies that caused me to doze behind wheels. At this point, the road was not only dusty but also the sharp corners were an added burden”, he says.
Have plenty of rest
Ronald Nkata a senior driving inspector at Uganda Driving Standards Agency (UDSA) says that drivers must desist from taking to the wheels when they are not in the right frame of mind. Nkata advises drivers to have plenty of rest before embarking on such journeys to avoid causing unnecessary accidents.
“Drivers must avoid any distraction such as engaging in unnecessary conversations while driving, talking on phone and waving at passers-by among other things”, Nkata explains.
Admittedly, Nkata recalls an incident dating fifteen years back. In 2003 while working for Felix Tours and Travel a tour company, he was delegated for duty.
However at the time he was embroiled in bitter wrangles with his employees. Within no time, he lost concentration and plunging the 64 seater bus into a drainage trench at Kireka.
Fortunately, he survived unhurt and importantly the vehicle was insured, something that saved him from meeting repair costs.
To date, the aged patron with a forest of grey hair says that psychological stability is paramount for every driver regardless of experience.
Familiarity to surface and car
Without mincing words, Charles Ssebambulide the Uganda Police traffic spokesperson says that much as it is one’s right to ride wherever he might desire, familiarity to driving surface and car type is what should inform one’s decision to drive upcountry.
According to Ssebambulide, it is advisable that those driving on murram surfaces do not surpass the 60 Kilometer per hour mark while those on highways should not go above 50 kmph.
“Drivers must ensure that they drive within the acceptable limits because this saves them and other road users. You will agree that overturning to a larger extent has got to do with over speeding”, he points out.
Besides that, he says that also one must have basic automotive knowledge of the car he intends to drive, if that is not the case then he/she should hire a driver who is more experienced.
Charles Ssebambulide says that on top of manning numerous checkpoints on key high ways, police has also deployed permit readers and breathalyzers to avoid any unbecoming behavior on the road. These measure, he says will go a long way in curbing motor accidents during this festive season.
It should be noted that, in last year alone 13,244 road accidents occurred of which 3,051 were fatal according to the Uganda Police annual crime report. These were less by 1230 compared to the previous year.
As if that is not enough, roughly ten Ugandans die daily in motor accidents according to the United Nations Road Safety Performance Review 2018.