From the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), goal three aims at ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages. One of the targets, 3.6, is to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.
In 2020, we want to call upon all stakeholders to step up and ACT to reduce the number of people dying due to road accidents in Uganda.
According to the 2018 Uganda Police report, about ten people die on Uganda roads every day. The bad news is that with possibly no central crash data centre that would code police crash records and look at health facilities, hospitals and mortuary data of people who die from accidents, this number might be three times what is recorded. This is terrible news and not suitable for Humanity!
What is the cause?
Many Uganda accidents are caused by reckless/careless driving mainly by big trucks and buses, for example, this end of year accident that left our children shuttle extremely damaged by the negligence of a Global Bus ‘driver’ who didn’t use any highway code knowledge and bypassed another vehicle when he surely wasn’t meant to do so. Hadn’t this unprofessional driver approached the shuttle when it was going off the road, this would have been another fatal head-on accident that would have taken many lives. This awful driving is becoming the order of the day for many bus ‘drivers’ that continue to murder innocent lives in Uganda.
Although we are in extreme shock, we are thankful to God for saving lives, and we believe this was a wakeup call to remind all responsible stakeholders to act in 2020 towards SDG 3.6. If we don’t all step up, innocent lives will continue to perish when we are supposed to be halving numbers.
What should be done?
It’s our prayer that we start a journey that incorporates SDG 11.2, which includes improving road safety by 2030, and it’s our hope that we all act on the following.
- Empower the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) as a leading agency in order to coordinate a broad partnership that involves the Government, Civil Society and Business which is the most effective approach to improving road safety. Together, the stakeholders will work closely with the empowered NRSC to plan and implement road safety activities.
- The NRSC creates and actions consecutive five-year Road Safety Policies with tangible and measurable action plans reviewed annually. These policies should be in line with WHO’s Global Plan for a Decade of Action for Road Safety which is also championed by the United Nations. Having this plan in the Government manifesto for the coming years will be a great advantage towards the success of SDG 3.6 and SDG 11.2.
- Properly coordinate all stakeholders’ collaborating activities to fall in at least one of the five categories or pillars of road safety:
- Road Safety Management capacity
- Safer Roads and transport networks
- Safe Vehicles
- Enhancing road users behaviours
- Improving post-crash response
What can be done immediately?
- Initiate plans to organise the NRSC as an autonomous commission and also support it with adequate funding and resources and equip it with skilled and people of integrity. Although merging some Uganda agencies needs to continue due to duplication of activities and services, having the NRSC as a department under the Ministry of Works and Transport might not adequately achieve the SDG 3.6 and 11.2.
- Road safety interventions need to be championed further through publicity using Radios, Televisions, online platforms, print media as well as public outreach with Road user education. Examples of public awareness activities will be for another day.
- NRSC should work with traffic Police to enhance existing law enforcement by providing training and smarter law enforcement equipment like Speed Radar Guns, Alcometers, etc.
- NRSC can immediately work with the police to sensitise passengers and give them rights to arrest drivers who go contrary to set traffic regulations or provide other options like hotlines to report careless drivers.
- NRSC should champion and promote stickers with phrases like Passengers be alert: Speak Up if you sense danger with your driver, or Your seat belt is your safe bet, or Avoid cell phone calls while driving.
- NRSC should work with the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to introduce Serious Repercussions road safety signs at different road points. For example, If you genuinely love your family, then divorce speed and carelessness, If you drive like hell, you will get there in no time, If you want to donate blood, it’s better you do it in a blood bank and not on the Road. People have died on this road, please drive slowly and carefully.
Serious improvements are required on road safety but let’s begin by believing that we can reduce road accidents as other countries have done and then we will walk the talk. Yes, it’s possible.
We wish you all joy, peace, love, good health and safer roads in 2020!