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World Day of Remembrance of Traffic Victims

The roads are safe for us, let us not be unsafe on them we remember the souls lost and take stock

COMMENT | AYUB AHMED | The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR) is commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year. This year it is on Nov.20.

As we mark it, let’s remember how, on 10th March this year, after eleven days of trekking 340.2 km, Joseph Beyanga a radio show producer posted a photo on his tweeter page, hands triumphantly raised and supporting his exhausted body on the road sign screaming his home town – Bushenyi! With his signature smile, of a man that appreciates the goodness of life, “Joe Walker” had completed his trek from Kampala to Bushenyi, a trek we keenly followed and cheered on social media under the hashtag #StayInYourLane with a sign off that says Safe Roads, Save Lives.

Joe was not walking to win a wager, or walking to seek a lady’s hand in marriage, neither was he a man on a wild goose chase. He was a man on a mission – tired of the madness, the inconsiderate use of the roads, the total disregard of human value and life, as we enjoy the social amenity of our road’s infrastructure in Uganda.

Joe Walked not for Johnny Walker social indulgence, but this middle-aged man was raising awareness of a big problem in Uganda. Scores of people are lost on the roads under the English noun accident. Beyanga wanted us to be better road users by remembering those lives we have lost and change to protect the lives that continue to walk, ride or drive on these roads.

Roads facilitate conveyance of people, goods and services which makes safety a critical attribute of their being.  The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is required to provide roads which are efficient and safe for Ugandans. Thus, the engineering must meet the minimum safety standards and all the infrastructure that is commissioned for use, must be maintained to meet the required level of service – safety being key. Thus, the mission of the Authority is, “To Efficiently Develop and Maintain a Safe and Sustainable National Road Network for the Economic Development of Uganda.” In this mission statement let us double click the word, Safe.

According to road design engineers, road safety engineering is a process based on analysis of road and traffic related accident information. It applies engineering principles in order to identify road design or traffic management improvements that will reduce the number and severity of road accidents in the most cost-effective manner. They also put it that making the road network safer through engineering measures offers the most effective way of reducing collisions in the short to medium term by tackling problems in the road environment directly and by seeking to counter or reduce the scope for inappropriate road user behavior.

Under these circumstances, road engineers in my research show, they essentially involve three principles for a safe road design. Accident Investigation (AI) – a reactive process involving hotspot investigation and analysis of collision and casualty statistics and trends, identifying locations that show higher than average collision rates. Accident Reduction (AR) – A process to make a judgement as to whether any of the causation factors highlighted within an existing known pattern can be addressed through safety engineering remedial measures, and thus help to reduce the collision frequency. Accident Prevention (AP) – A road safety engineer then follows the AI and AR process by devising an effective Road Safety Strategy/Plan and Danger Reduction Plans, as well as advising on Road Safety Education, Training and Publicity. The road safety engineer also implements best practice in AP through the process of Road Safety Auditing, which is a proactive process.

In a Press Conference on September 26, 2022, traffic police spokesperson Farida Nampiima revealed something very worrying; she said, between 18th and 24th September 2022, Police had registered 398 accident crashes of which 66 were fatal, 206 serious and 126 minor accidents. The major cause of these accidents included reckless driving, reckless behavior, over speeding and failure to respect road signs.  This then takes us to another 2021 Uganda Police Force annual crime report which revealed that 1,005 passengers died on the roads as victims of accidents handing the motorcycle riders the biggest share of the cause of up to 34% which is more than half of the number mentioned – 528 lives on the hands of this motorcycle sector in 2021 were lost.

As we remember the victims of road accidents over the years, let it not be that the blessings given to us become the grim reaper that robs the joy we are supposed to celebrate with these gifts. Behavior change is the deal maker. Protect our road infrastructure, observe traffic regulations and exercise patience and put our wits to actual use for humanity. The roads are safe for us, let us not be unsafe on them.

The lives lost that we have registered on our roads are a tragedy for the nation. With this tribute, we acknowledge and remember all those who did not return home due to a road accident and reaffirm commitment to continue working to improve the safety of the roads in Uganda.


Ayub Ahmed works with the Uganda National Roads Authority



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