Views from Fiona: Uganda's Dangerous Roads
Accident on Masaka Road early May 2006.

Views from Fiona: Uganda's Dangerous Roads


Two prominent musicians in the late 90s, at the peak of their careers, perished on Masaka road... and some blamed it on witchcraft!

By Fiona Abaasa
more from author >>
First published: July 7, 2006


Road carnage is rated among the fastest killers along with HIV/AIDS in Africa today and Uganda is no exception. At least a good number of fatal accidents befall citizens while on our roads and the disturbing fact is every year the police release an increased number in road accidents. Whereas some of the accidents are solely the responsibility of drivers, bad roads and other unforeseen factors play their role. Is there anything that can be done to reduce this grave problem?

This country has lost a lot of important citizens due to car accidents yet still no tangible action has been taken to reduce them. The late Attorney General Francis Ayume, Brig. Toko, Jay Tanna- former youth MP for Eastern Uganda, scribes Kenneth Matovu and his colleagues have all perished on the Jinja-Mbale highway. So have other prominent Ugandans who have perished on Masaka road. Two prominent musicians in the late 90s, at the peak of their careers, perished on Masaka road... and some blamed it on witchcraft!


A funeral service for four Ugandan sportswriters who died in a road accident on the Kampala-Jinja road
A funeral service for four Ugandan sportswriters who died in a road accident on the Kampala-Jinja road. The four, Kenneth Matovu, Simon-Peter Ekarot, Leo Kabunga (The New Vision) and Francis Batte (The Monitor) - were returning from Jinja where they had gone to raise money for the Ugandan Sports Press Association. (Pic by Morgan Mbabazi) .
Image Source: EastAfrican


 FALLEN HERO: Police officers carry Ayume's body to the Chambers
FALLEN HERO: Police officers carry Ayume's body to the Chambers .
Image Source: New Vision

The past two weeks alone saw a heavy truck carrying building materials, loosing control and crashing at about 5:40 am on Jinja road. The driver escaped, leaving his 'turn boy' to die in agony- had the police not responded fast enough to save him from the mangled truck. Then a driver of a Toyota Pajero, while on his cell phone, could not see the heavy truck ahead of him. A pedestrian, in a bid to alert him, instead met his death at the Mulago round about.

Sometime ago KCC made a law requiring heavy trucks to move at night, past 9pm, but like with all traffic laws that are never followed in Uganda, nobody there is no enforcement of these laws and the heavy trucks continue to pry our roads during the day and have continuously been a source of accidents.

It is never wise to drive closely behind these huge trucks especially on slopes and around bends and sharp corners. Neither is it prudent to over-take them because one may be hit by oncoming traffic. Whereas business must go on and motorists continue on with their journeys, care must be taken by all involved. But most of all the traffic police should enforce tougher and stringent laws to improve the already grim situation.

Ugandans are fond of these Japanese Toyotas, and especially used ones for their affordability. So the state of some these cars' is appalling. No wonder Uganda is known as Toyota country! These cars are in dangerous mechanical condition [DMC] but continue to pry the roads putting the lives of citizens at risk. It was astounding to see the whole Member of Parliament Hon. Proscovia Musumba, during the presidential elections, navigating a serious DMC which had been nicknamed 'FDC Mamba' in Jinja town.

Of course there are other models of car manufacturers whose cars are in serious condition on Uganda's roads. The police should be able to regularly hold impromptu checks to determine their road worthy.

 Uganda's Taxis or Kamunye (mini buses for public transport)
Uganda's Taxis or Kamunye/Matatu (public mini buses)

The common culprits are the taxis or kamunye/matatu.

The other factors that play in road accidents are mobile phones but motorists, especially those who can't afford to miss their calls while in a traffic jam, should high-tech and buy blue-tooth, hands-free phones rather than endanger other motorists and themselves. The police should swoop them up or make them pay heavy fines.

Pot holes on our roads- considering it could be one of Uganda's seven wonders, have often contributed to road accidents sometimes motorists in a bid to negotiate these potholes end up knocking on coming cars or loosing control. KCC has done a sterling job in maintaining a city full of potholes but something has to been done the Ntinda stretch, Bukoto-Kisaasi... among the many comes to mind. During rush hours or the rainy season it's a nightmare and the accidents are always plenty.

More than simple potholes in Namasuba- a neighborhood on the outskirts of Kampala
More than simple potholes in Namasuba- a neighborhood on the outskirts of Kampala

There are some roads in Uganda that are a menace to humanity. Masaka and Jinja highway feature prominently. At least a road sign should be put on these perilous spots to alert motorists. I always hold my breath around Lugazi on my way to Jinja. This spot has claimed many lives.

Uganda transport operators and drivers association [UTODA] also have a job to do and often times let down the public. Untrained drivers without license and turn boys usually operate the matatus often putting the lives of their clients at risk because of their non-existent knowledge on traffic laws. In most cases, after causing an accident, they usually flee the scene of the crime.

May 2006: A new bus company was launched at the Sheraton hotel in Kampala
May 2006: A new bus company was launched at the Sheraton hotel in Kampala.

Hope is not lost as a few days ago the new city Mayor Alhajji Nasser Ntege Sebbagala launched a new bus company at the Sheraton hotel. Pioneer Easy Bus Company has already imported into the country 25 Leyland buses as part of the 350 that will pry in and round the city on a 25 km radius. We can only hope that this will ease the traffic and give speeding taxis a run for their money.

Above all citizens should take responsibility while driving together. We can conquer this road carnage!

By Fiona Abaasa
more from author >>
First published: July 7, 2006
Fiona Abaasa is our UGPulse writer based in Kampala.

"My thirst for news and passion for reading has made me a better writer out of myself. I joined UGPulse at its infancy and I am proud of what its looks like now. As part of the team I would like to see it grow further and be an online magazine to reckon with."

Click ***here*** for the archive of Fiona's Views from Fiona only at UGPulse.com.