Treat Traffic As an Emergency [editorial]

When Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday complained about the notorious traffic jam along Jinja road, she was speaking for all users of that road, and indeed many others around Kampala.

Calling on the ministry of Works and Transport to do something about it, Kadaga described travelling from Jinja to Kampala and vice versa as a nightmare.

“You need almost seven hours yet that road is a gateway to Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” she complained.

What Kadaga said of Jinja road can also be said of Entebbe road. Just as you might need half a day to drive from Kampala to Jinja, it could take up to four hours to drive to Entebbe, a distance of less than 40km. On weekends or school visiting days, it could get a lot worse.

The city centre is also known to get so gridlocked that many people have opted to avoid it altogether unless it’s their place of work. As a result, those with property or businesses in traffic-prone areas are losing out.

The country can’t move forward economically when so much precious time is being lost in traffic every single day. Valuable time that would have been spent on productive activities.

The feeling out there is that the president and other VIPs are not bothered by traffic jam because they can use the police to clear the way ahead of them.

Now that Kadaga has taken the debate to Parliament, let the problem get the attention it deserves. There may be elaborate plans to expand some of the roads and even build flyovers but these are medium-term and long-term solutions. Yet the short-term nightmare can’t wait for a solution to come in five years. Personal inconvenience and damage to the economy will have been irreparable by then.

Let’s fast-track some of the medium-term plans and also implement simple measures that can make a big difference, such as fixing all feeder roads to give motorists more options, eliminating potholes, ending roadside parking in the city centre, clamping down on unruly motorists who exacerbate the problem, introducing traffic lights at all major junctions and eliminating roundabouts, among others.

Controversial as the idea might be, road tolls should also be considered.

Source : The Observer

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