ROAD SAFETY SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE A PANDEMIC
The road safety situation in Uganda currently has put us at number six (6) globally in terms of road carnage. Members of the Road Safety Coalition Uganda (ROSACU) were on the 10th of August 2022 hosted by Members of Parliament sitting on the parliamentary committee of Physical Infrastructure to talk about what can be done to bring these numbers down.
Presenting on behalf of ROSACU was Safe Way Right Way (SWRW) Chief Executive Office(CEO)- Tibigambwa Peter. He highlighted the importance of looking at the areas affected by road safety and these include: Public Health, the most productive population and the economy since approximately 4.4 trillion Ugandan shillings is currently lost in road crash related expenses, 5% of Uganda’s GDP.
According to Richard Baguma Rwatooro from Civil Society Coalition on Transport (CISCOT), cabinet had in 2019 established a multi-sectoral committee at Ministry of Works and Transport which was chaired by the Commissioner Transport Safety and Regulation- Winstone Katushabe. This committee was to consider making recommendations for the reduction of road crashes, insurance compensation among others. Richard noted that it went under for lack of financial support among other reasons after only two meetings. He further asked cabinet to review and re-instate this committee with a broader mandate.
“Until we turn road safety into an issue of National security or a pandemic, we are going to continue losing more than the recorded annual 3600 people. These numbers are nowhere close to the Covid, Ebola or HIV deaths yet a lot of money was allocated to them”- Baguma Richard Rwatooro submitted.
According to Sam Bambanza, the Executive Director of Hope for Victims of Traffic Accidents (HOVITA), Tourism is one of our main sources of income as a country but has been highly affected because of our road safety situation. At the moment, Sam noted that Rwanda is having more tourists because of the assurance of their safety on the road in comparison to Uganda.
Still on Tourism, Hon. Sarah Opendi- Soroti Woman MP and road safety champion mentioned how Uganda is ranked 2nd most dangerous country for tourists because of road crashes.
Hon Ssemwanga Gyaviira appreciated ROSACU and CISCOT for a good job well done in providing well- detailed information to the committee. He also tasked Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to talk about the quality of spare parts and mechanical schools and how such affects road safety as well.
Hon Byanyima Nathan advocated for a road safety agency with individuals who are competent with what they do. According to him, road designs like majority mentioned in this meeting are a long-term solution but we need an immediate measure so that we can easily be understood and impactful.
According to Jackie Okao, the In-country Coordinator for Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), the impact of ROSACU may seemingly be invisible but in less than a year, we have bridged some gaps among policy makers, created an impact in the review of the helmet standards regulation and this is just the start.
In the parting shots and recommendations, it was unanimously agreed that Road Safety audits should be prioritized, independent road crash investigations should be adopted, Road furniture for murram roads should be installed, Toll free lines specifically for road crashes should be assigned and road designs in form of forgiving roads should be constructed.Tags: Accidents on the road, road safety, Road safety advocacy, roadcrash, Save lives, traffic rules, uganda police