An accident scene involving boda bodas and a fuel tanker.

This year has proven to be rather eventful as we go along, from the presidential campaigns/elections and their signature riots; Dr Stella Nyanzi’s talk of shame to the very much anticipated Blankets and Wine annual event, among other events. The year 2016 has not ceased to impress!

However, one particular occurrence that has not impressed; it has instead awakened many to its grotesque aftermath when it strikes unexpectedly and claims the lives of many. It lives with us daily!

Despite being a peculiar sight on the roads, accidents continue to be an ever-present reality on the Ugandan roads, reminding the commuters of their mortality and vulnerability whilst on the road, and prompting Ugandan authorities to try and find solutions in a bid to reduce the risks on the roads.

DANGEROUS LOADING: A motorcycle rider carrying six pre-primary school children. Photo/watsupuganda.com
DANGEROUS LOADING: A motorcycle rider carrying six pre-primary school children. Photo/watsupuganda.com

Almost 20 people died on Saturday in an accident along Masaka Road that involved a truck and four passenger vehicles. Before that, the family of Entebbe Municipality MP Rose Tumusiime witnessed the gruesome death of their beloved daughter Doreen Tashobya, who was a MUBS graduate and business owner when the boda boda she was on was crashed by a moving truck, instantly killing her and a relative.

In Uganda it has been proven that most road accidents involve boda-bodas, making the two-wheeled killer machines a top hazard on the road despite their dexterity, especially during rush hours.

Indeed, the fatalities occasioned by boda bodas are so high it has been nicknamed ‘the silent killer’.

In 2012 doctors stated that, “between 10-20 victims are received with injuries caused by boda bodas, with 20% of the victims left disabled.”

As a result several measures like carrying out spot checks on valid vehicle and motorcycle documentation; the use helmets, one passenger limitation and the enforcement of strictly following of the road rules and regulations have been put in place and implemented in order to rein in the errant drivers and boda boda cyclists, to no known avail.

Recently, police impounded over 7000 boda bodas operating illegally in Kampala, and according to sources, the next operation will target taxis.

Further, the sources say, government aims to reduce the number of boda bodas in the city to 1000, from a staggering 300,000 that were recorded in 2012.

Also, sources intimate that a new requirement that has been put in place by the government, where boda bodas will be required to have two number plates: one at the front and back in order to operate.

The idea, protagonists argue, is to increase the chances of an errant rider getting arrested, something some of the riders are contesting.

“It does not help at all; how is having two number plates going to stop boda bodas from getting accidents?” David Sserunkuma a 33-year old boda boda driver in Ntinda, Bukoto stage, wonders.

Sserunkuma blames the high rate of boda boda accidents on the high consumption of alcohol by riders who work at night. He also blames the police for ‘asking too much money and making many boda boda drivers desperate and careless’.

“Also the government should help us and handle these documents for us, they are too many and some of them we have never heard of. If the government can tax us and handle the documents then that would be fair rather than resorting to the crackdowns which do not help,” Sserunkuma says.

However, despite both parties having different and various approaches to curb the increasing road accidents on the road we can only hope that the Ugandan government with road users will find a quick solution in order to restore order and safety on Uganda’s roads.