Let Road Carnage Debate Continue [editorial]

Two high-profile politicians have recently commented on Uganda’s frightening road carnage in the pages of this newspaper.

In our September 12-14 edition, Dr Kizza Besigye, the former FDC president, noted the toll road accidents were having on Uganda and articulated the causes and remedies needed to arrest the situation (see: Carnage on our roads is a sign of govt failure)

This edition has carried yet another enriching article on the subject, this time by DP president general Norbert Mao (See: End culture of impunity to ensure road safety). While Besigye argues that the traffic policy and regulatory framework is wanting, Mao adds that the culture of impunity and non-compliance with existing laws is largely to blame.

According to the police records, 2,954 people died in road accidents in Uganda last year, while thousands more were injured. Road accidents are not only a humanitarian disaster but also a cost on the economy, as most of those killed are young people with dependants to sustain. Indeed, it is estimated that 2.9 per cent of Uganda’s GDP (about $1.6bn) is lost annually to road accidents, according to Besigye.

Yet we continue to look on as more lives are lost. In fact, it appears the more people die, the more it becomes almost normal, with no or little outrage expressed. Fortunately, stemming this tide is not rocket science. The existing traffic and other laws and policies must be put to use. At the moment, implementation is haphazard, putting motorists at the mercy of traffic officers and opening the door for bribery, but never doing enough to stop the carnage.

Drivers don’t respect the traffic code because they know the repercussions of such violation are not dire. If doing so was made a very risky business, they would think twice before doing some of the things that make Uganda a deadly place for road users.

Lastly, there is need for political will if the road carnage is to be controlled. Besigye and Mao must be commended for rekindling this debate. However, being in opposition, they can only do so much. Now the ball is in the court of those who can do more than write.

Source : The Observer

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