Politics

Ugandan Plan to Remove Road Humps Has Residents Fearful of More Traffic Accidents

 

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John Busingye, shown at the farm where he is a manager in Nansana, a Kampala suburb in Wakiso District, worries that removing road humps in Uganda will lead to more road traffic injuries. He considers himself lucky that he only injured his arm when he was in an accident about four months ago, as three other people died. Apophia Agiresaasi, GPJ Uganda
Uganda

A plan to remove road humps, also known as speed bumps, throughout the East African country will better accommodate transport trucks that move through the region, but could result in more traffic accidents.

KAMPALA, UGANDA — John Busingye, a farm manager in Nansana, a Kampala suburb in Wakiso District broke his arm in an accident on Kampala Mbale Highway four months ago.

He was lucky. The driver and two other passengers died, he says.

But now he can’t work long hours or lift heavy things, he says.

If there had been speed bumps, known locally as road humps, the accident wouldn’t have happened, he says. Vehicles were moving fast, he says.

“I survived by luck,” he says, stretching out his left arm to display his scars.

An effort led by one parliamentarian to have road humps removed from highways have some Ugandans worried that road accidents will increase in the country, which already has an abysmal road safety record. Ruth Nankabirwa Sentamu, a parliamentarian from Kiboga district and chief whip, says the project will begin this fiscal year.

The plan will help heavy trucks move faster through the country, she says. As a member of the East African Community, Uganda is obligated to ensure that trucks can move easily within the country.

Uganda is a problem spot, Sentamu says.

“Member countries are complaining about humps on our highways which slow down the pace of heavy trucks carrying goods and damage vehicles, as a member country, we have to comply,” she says.

Rumble strips will be added when the road humps are removed so that trucks can move more quickly without endangering people, says Susan Kataike, the Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Works and Transport.

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A plan to remove road humps to make Uganda more accommodating for transport drivers has many people worried that the change will result in more traffic accidents.

Apophia Agiresaasi, GPJ Uganda

 

The number of vehicles in Uganda from 2000 to 2010 has more than doubled according to the Uganda Road Sector Support Initiative. With that increase, there’s been an uptick in the number of road accidents, from 19,867 in 2007 to 22,272 in 2011. The same initiative cites the 2011 Uganda Police Force Report, noting that the number of fatalities in Uganda – 10.1 per 100,000 – is high compared to other African countries.

But more recently, there’s been a 7.6 percent decline in the total number of fatal and serious accidents, according to a 2013 Uganda Police report. That decrease is the largest the nation has seen in 11 years. The police assert this is due to the deployment of enforcement teams that work to curb speeding, drunk driving and other causes of accidents.

Some Ugandans say removing road humps will turn highways into death traps.

“If they dare remove humps on highways or put smaller humps, the incidence of accidents will increase,” says Danson Beinemigisha, a Kampala resident. “The other options like sign posts may not work because most people don’t read road signs.”

That’s not exactly true, says Patrick Okello, a transportation foreman.

“Removing humps on highways would be okay, but other measures should be put in place to avoid accidents especially in trading centers along highways,” he says.

More road signs are needed, he adds, and drivers need to be trained to pay attention to them.

The plan makes Rhona Kikanshemeza, a Kampala resident, nervous.

“If anything we need more humps,” she says.