Ugandans have been urged to be more responsible and take charge of their safety while using the roads in order to prevent accidents.
During the commemoration of the ‘World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims’ on Sunday at Uganda Youth Aid Nursery and Primary School, it was revealed that 1.35 million people lose their lives yearly and over 50 million people are injured on roads around the world.
Organised by Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety in partnership with Kampala Capital City Authority and C-Squared, the event illuminated a number of objectives.
Eng Jacob Byamukama, from the KCCA engineering department explained that this year’s theme is: Remember (the lives lost in road accidents), Support (the drivers and their families) and Act (better and more responsibly towards improving everyone’s safety on the road.
“The objectives of the world day of remembrance of road traffic victims are to provide a platform for road traffic victims and their families to; remember all people killed and seriously injured on the roads, acknowledge the crucial work of the emergency services, draw attention to the generally tubal legal response to road deaths and injuries, to advocate better support for injured victims and victims’ families and to promote evidence based actions to prevent and eventually stop further road traffic deaths and injuries,” Byamukama said.
He added that in Uganda, over 3,500 lives are lost every year and every day, up to 10 people sustain injuries due to road crashes.
In his keynote address, the Mayor of Nakawa division, Eng Ronald Balimwezo said that although most people think that road accidents only occur in the middle of the roads, they also occur on the sidewalks and the trenches. He attributed the cause of accidents to poor roads.
“In Kampala alone, we have 2,110 kilometres of roads, both murram and tarmac. Only 608 km is tarmac. The reason why we have numerous accidents is because of our poor roads full of potholes,” Balimwezo said.
“As I was on Jinja road going to Bweyogerere, a young girl from Lugogo bypass tried to negotiate a pothole and she hit me. I went up in the air and coming down, my leg was off. I lost my leg because of the pothole which could have been reinstated using less money. The artificial leg that i am putting on cost government over 70 million and it has never been like my natural leg,” he shared.
He said that Ugandans ought to be responsible and need to be taught to be patient on the road and pupils need to be taught safety programmes in schools.
“I appeal to government to make sure that communities are sensitised and change their mindset. Majority of accidents are those related to boda bodas. Cyclists and drivers don’t want to respect each other and therefore there are conflicts on the road,” Balimwezo said.
Charles Ssebambulide, Assistant Commissioner of Police said, “On average, around 10,000 people are injured every year. Some get broken limbs, others get permanent injuries from which they will never recover like losing sight forever.”
He also revealed that out of the people that die every year, about 600 are children.
“Many of the children who die are school children and are either going or coming back from school. What’s painful is that the majority of people who die or injured are pedestrians. These are followed by motorcyclists,” he added.
He advised parents who send children to school alone on motorcycles to be more cautious.
“When you put your child in front of the rider, he is a bit safe as he wears a helmet and has protective glass. Eyes of small children are exposed to the wind of morning hours and this can cause eye sickness and respiratory dysfunctions,” he said.
In order to curb accident, Esther Baiga, researcher at Makerere University School of Public Health said, “There’s need to improve the road traffic crash data surveillance system as this will help in getting the actual data. It’s been said that if you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it.”