TOO YOUNG TO DIE- JOE WALKER’S 2ND EDITION
In the world of advocacy, different strategies are put to play before results/ impacts of the drive are witnessed. For road safety, different stakeholders have implemented advocacies through awareness raising, advocating for review of regulations among others, in order to bring down the increasing road carnage statistics in Uganda that are claiming about 12 lives per day. For Joseph Beyanga, commonly known as Joe Walker, it is a personal initiative he has taken on to advocate for safer roads for all users and to educate road users about safer road behavior to prevent road crashes and injuries. Last year, he launched the Joe Walker movement where he moved in the company of a few friends from Kampala to Bushenyi on foot.
On Monday the 6th of February this year, the Joe Walker team, which comprised of approximately twenty-one (21) participants, walked on foot from Kampala to Mbale. This second edition of the Joe Walker road safety campaign was flagged off by the deputy speaker of Parliament- Thomas Tayebwa at the independence monument in Kampala.
Day one had the participants take on the stretch from the Independence Monument in Kampala to Mukono where they had a breakfast stop. The team then proceeded to their next stop which was in Namawojjolo for a late lunch and finally ended the day’s journey at Namataba having walked a total of forty two (42) kilometers.
Day two had the team on the road by 6:30am so that a great distance could be covered before the rise of the heavy sun rays. The trekkers were headed for Jinja via the long stretch of Mabira Forest estimated at about 47kms. Upon arrival in Jinja later that evening, the team had an awareness raising session with the Ambercourt market bodaboda riders where the riders expressed their challenges on the road, absence of a proper training school for new learners among others. The Joe Walker team passed on road safety messages and good road user behavior to the drivers on the promise that their challenges were going to be passed on to the relevant offices for follow up. The team crowned this engagement by giving out reflector jackets and the highway code to the riders to increase their knowledge about safe road use behavior.
Day three had the team starting with an awareness raising session at Jinja Senior Secondary School where the chief walker- Joseph Beyanga addressed the students about the importance of being attentive while using the road and other forms of good road user behavior. This was crowned with the hand over of the highway code to the school administration so that the road safety messages can live on beyond our brief visit at the school. The team then proceeded to Jinja town where, with the help of the Jinja scouts, they were able to paint a zebra crossing on Jinja main street and talk to taxi drivers in Jinja’s main taxi park. At the end of these activities, the team hit the road and took a breather at Magamaga before their last stop for the day which was Iganga hence covering 40kms.
At 7:30 am, day four’s journey was upon the team as they hit the Tirinyi road where cars seemed to be on an imaginary racing spree because of the good road network. Bukoona was the next stop 15km later where the team stopped to stretch their muscles. 35km later, the team docked at Namutumba for the night.
The amount of heat that embraced the day five journey is the kind one can’t pretend to have forgotten as long as they took part in the walk. Most of the walkers were witnessed moving shirtless because the heat had become unbearable but the journey needed to be walked. It was by far the hottest day of the trip which forced more stops in order to cool off and wait for the teammates whose pace had tremendously slowed down because of the heat. At 7:20pm, the team docked in Budaka where they camped for the night.
The final day, day six had the team in Kamonkoli for a breakfast stop and later at the destination which was Mbale city by late afternoon. There was another awareness raising session of bodaboda cyclists where reflector jackets were handed over after the session and the team proceeded to the final stop point which was the Post Office of Mbale city. Through out the walk, one of the major challenges identified was the vandalisation of road furniture. Most of the road signage seemed to have been harvested and this makes the roads dangerous for users. Other challenges identified were; overspeeding which was witnessed mostly on the Tirinyi- Mbale stretch because of the good road network, illiteracy among the motorcyclists who could not interprete the road signs, lack of a proper training school for the new motorcyclists, high licensing fees, among others.
The second edition of the Joe Walker movement is one that URRENO is proud to have been a part of under their coalition- ROSACU (Road Safety Coalition Uganda) and come February 2024 when plans of the Kampala- FortPortal walk are to be implemented, we are ready to join in and spread the good news of how to reduce the road carnage statistics by half come 2030 as stated in the Global Plan of Action for the Decade of Action for road safety 2021-2030.Tags: Global Health Advocacy Incubator, road safety, Road safety advocacy, Save lives, uganda police