Travelling on Kampala’s roads during peak hours is increasingly becoming difficult. And signalised junctions are becoming harder to manage even with serviceable lights. Roads leading to junctions get messed up as motorists proceed without being cleared. You would expect that allowing the lights do a good job is adequate. With its sequencing supposed to facilitate efficient traffic transition. But this is no longer the case. Traffic volume requires physical manning at peak times.
Traffic police personnel or warden must be present to ensure this as road users are impatient. When lights signal pedestrians to cross, it no longer matters. Every motorist rushes to cross to the other side. It makes orderly traffic flow impossible. And people get delayed in traffic. This delay has forced many people to opt for the quick means. Motorcycle taxis, popular as boda boda.
Travellers get hold of one and can easily get their way through the kilometres of vehicular traffic during peak hours. Many road users prefer to take boda boda rides because they must get to their destinations quickly. But motorcycle taxis are a real problem. Riders wander from one side of the road lane to another. On the wrong traffic lanes, walkways, everywhere they cross. So, are traffic lights being overwhelmed by the traffic volume? Or, is traffic volume too messed up to be controlled by the lights for which they were designed? Answers to this dilemma are many.
That the traffic volume has increased in recent years is a fact. Also, it is true that the traffic volume at peak hours puts a huge responsibility on the traffic policemen and wardens. They get lost in the haste to clear the road. And panic on sighting a ‘Very Important Person’ (VIP)onvoy. Traffic lights cannot function efficiently. And some lanes become one-ways at certain hours. It presents a tough job for the traffic regulators. Sometimes they give in and let road users take charge.
Often, boda boda riders find themselves receiving the wrong end of the stick. And so occasionally get involved in running battles with police. Enforcement of wearing helmets still lurks. The boda boda rider who is supposed to put on helmet does not seem to like the idea. He only puts it on upon seeing the white-clothed enforcers. And pulls the helmet aside after going past them. The rider is in the spotlight, so should the passenger who is being ridden. They never put on helmets. Accidents involving the boda boda often leave passengers with serious injuries. It will be interesting to see how the traffic regulator enforces passengers to wear their helmets. Whether or not, every passenger is expected to buy their own, the police’s work is cut out. Sharing helmets will not go down well with the passengers. It is a real problem on our hands. How far it will get, we wait to see.
Traffic regulators must be caught between two issues. Enforcing a policy and being seen not to be high-handed. So as the rat race between the boda boda riders and the traffic wardens continue, the job of the traffic regulator is getting harder.
Boda bodas are not relenting. In fact, they still continue to carry more passengers than required. And simply speed off when about to get caught. The proposed re-organisation of boda bodas could yet be a good thing. But an efficient public transport should be put in place to free the road of many private vehciles. This could ease the problem of errant road users. At the moment, managing traffic is a huge responsibility given to the traffic police.
Mr Mone is a civil engineer, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Daily Monitor