NEWS Government must urgently tackle rampant road accidents

Government must urgently tackle rampant road accidents

Accidents are increasing at an unprecedented rate, and we must examine the main causes.

In just eight days, we killed 83 people and seriously injured 297 in 360 accidents. In just three days (December 23-26, we killed 55 people in 206 road accidents; between December 28, 2023 and January 1, 2023, we killed 55 people in 104 road accidents More than 50 lives were lost.

On January 6, an accident occurred on the Gulu Highway, killing 16 people. These numbers are dire and rising every day. In just one week, from December 2022 to January 2023, we lost more than 80 people and injured more than 200.

In 2021, more than 37,000 people will die in major accidents and more than 17,000 people will be slightly injured. The trend is worrying.

According to the World Health Organization, 1.3 million people die in accidents worldwide each year, and 200,000 to 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries. More than half of all road traffic deaths and injuries involve vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and their passengers.

Furthermore, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 5-29. Young men under the age of 25 are more likely than women to be involved in road traffic accidents, with 73% of road traffic fatalities occurring among young men in this age group. Road traffic injury rates are higher in developing economies, with 93% of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries such as Uganda.

According to the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety, Uganda contributed the most to these statistics, with 29 deaths per 100 km. Road accidents not only cause human suffering, but also impose a heavy economic burden on the victims and their families in terms of the cost of treatment of the injured, loss of productivity of those killed or disabled, etc. The loss is about 3%. This just shows that accidents not only cause casualties, but also have a major impact on the socio-economic development of a country, and the country urgently needs governance.

There are many reasons for these fatal accidents on road, rail and water, and instead of acknowledging responsibility and trying to do better, I’ve witnessed a lot of blame games to no avail.

This does not mean that I condone any infractions that lead to accidents, but that these accidents are often unnatural events that we could have avoided. Police attribute most of the accidents to dangerous driving and vehicles in a dangerous mechanical condition. If you’ve only been in Uganda for a day, you’ll quickly notice how reckless most motorists and pedestrians are. You can’t expect a driver who breaks traffic rules in the city to obey the rules on the highway. There always seems to be an urge to overtake, and while you follow keenly, some rush to pick up the kids from school or join their favorite kafunda! We’ve also witnessed many drivers taking the right of way when they don’t have the right to do so, which also breeds a bad culture.

Buses have become yet another death trap with reckless drivers and some were even once banned, something has indeed changed. When it comes to boda-bodas, most people seem to either be unaware of the traffic rules, or simply choose to ignore them; even with junction boxes being introduced in some parts of the city, you’ll still see a bunch of boda-bodas in the middle of the junction box!

Most of our roads are dangerously narrow and dark, causing difficulties for road users. Most road signs are gone, and most have not been painted to clearly warn drivers. Some potholes gained permanent status; because they were never repaired! How many obstacles do we have at railroad crossings? How many roads are correctly illuminated? How many other signposts on our roads need to bump a hump at night to let them know it’s there? How many ambulances do we have to save accident victims? How many highways have side emergency stops; when a car breaks down on the corner of Kisoro Road, where will motorists park it safely? Do police have sufficient resources to deploy 24 hours on major highways?

Under various road safety legal regimes such as the Road Act, United Nations Road Safety Act, Traffic Road and Safety Act, etc., and the United Nations Development Goals; SDG 3.6 and SDG 11.2 seek to reduce road traffic casualties by 50% by 2020 %, and provide safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport respectively by 2030, with governments solely responsible for providing safe and adequate infrastructure ensuring that all roads are safe and motorable and that victims can successfully Sue the government for failing to ensure the safety of road users.

As we remind drivers, the government through its MDA has a greater responsibility to ensure that all roads are safe and that all road users have the appropriate information and infrastructure to guide them.

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