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Nomination day chaos exposes country’s poor traffic and security planning

 

A third world country like Uganda cannot afford to close its main gateway to the seaport for two days in the name of nomination function

COMMENT | Samson Tinka | Uganda held nominations for the presidential elections on Monday and Tuesday. The nominations took place at Kyambogo along Jinja highway.

In preparation for that function, security teams had communicated security measures and  traffic control measures. Some roads feeding in to Jinja Road from Wampewo to Kireka were closed off form public use.

The closing off these roads created the worst traffic jam I have witnessed in the recent past.

  • What was/are reasons for closing off the main gate way road to the sea port?
  • Was Kyambogo the best option for this activity?
  • Did it require complete closure of Jinja road for nominees to access Kyamabogo
  • Did the closure of the roads lead to losses?
  • Did security team envisage that the traffic would cause such a traffic mess?
  • Did the closure raise a risk in covid19 transmission?
  • Couldn’t this nomination exercise take place on a weekend day?
  • Couldn’t the security team refer to past experiences especially football matches in Nambore?

A third world country like Uganda cannot afford to close its main gateway to the seaport for two days in the name of nomination function.

Planners of this even should have opted for another venue preferably Lugogo cricket oval, Nakasero Primary school play ground etc. such areas are located on relatively traffic areas. One thing that our security teams don’t foresee is the cost in terms of time. The biggest cost for any business person is time not capital or law materials by the way. Until we attach cost on time, we shall continue getting the equation wrong.

It was not needed to close jinja road for full day or days. Traffic officers needed just to regulate traffic flow as they have always done especially when HE is coming from Entebbe to State house Nakasero.

Traffic is either stopped or guided on one side. Kireka to Jinja road wampewo is the inlet/out let to traffic to najjera, Ntiinda, Kiira, Kisasi, Kulambiro , gayaza road etc. these are highly populated areas and certainly the traffic managers should have envisaged that the closure would cause terrible movement circus. Indeed, it has been a day to remember. It took me 49 minutes between shell bugolobi and middle east.

Such road closures lead to loss of revenue from the business fraternity. If you ask Mukwano Group of companies to quantify losses cushioned on this two-day road closure, it will be in billions same as other serious business players in the country. All distributors, taxi fraternity all lost revenue. People who were going to the airport from affected areas missed their flights.

From the pictures and videos that were circulating on social media, it was very clear that all COVID19 SOPs were violated. Boda boda guys were in thousands and squeezed neck to neck. They kept in same positions for more than an hour. If among the boda boda guys were Covid19 patients then expect patients in hundreds in the next few weeks.

It would have made sense if these nominations happened on weekend where traffic is largely small. School children reached at 1pm, employees of some companies and government simply turned back home after reaching their work places at 2pm.

We have had similar bad traffic on this particular road especially when there is an international game involving Cranes in Nambole even when all roads are open. Such past experiences should have guided security and other even planners to chose the right venue and the best day.

Generally, Monday was a bad traffic experience and I hope in future, the security team will deal with such events better.

The economy is already in pain for obvious reasons like corona and the like, we can not afford to stress it any further with such man-made problems. Traffic officers should aid even planners to make decisions that will not disrupt day to day city operations. From security perspective, this kind of traffic jam could have chanced any bad person like terrorist to cause more danger. You can have such a concentrated target in one place like that.

With any form of emergency on Kireka, Kinawataka , Bugolobi like fire, etc, I don’t think fire brigade would have accessed the affected areas. I don’t know if we hall ever get it right as a country as far as planning is concerned. We seem to continue struggling on planning at individual, group, company and governmental level.

Lets up the game. It was a shame, an unnecessary inconvenience and an embracement. I saw more than five people urinating on the side of the road because they stayed in traffic long than usual and could access washroom facilities.

*****

 Samson Tinka is a safety and security expert.

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