A taxi undergoing the mandatory vehicle inspection at the SGS Automotive centre in Kawanda.

Uganda is one of the African countries with the highest rate of road accidents, a World Health Organization report on road safety says. More than 20,000 people die every year in traffic accidents in Uganda. Road accidents are actually the leading cause of death among people aged 18-32 years. The majority of road accidents involve public transport buses, taxis and boda-bodas (commercial motorcycles). However, private vehicles also are responsible for a sizeable portion of road accident cases.

Road accidents are caused by a myriad of factors. Distracted driving for instance; where the driver crashes because they were distracted by a text, or someone else. Speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, bad weather, poor seatbelt and motorcycle helmet culture, running red lights, inexperienced or unlicensed drivers, overloading, driving tired and animals crossing are other major factors facilitating our status as the country with the some of the most road accidents on the continent.

We always tend to place the blame for an accident squarely on the shoulders of the driver for their choices and decisions in the moment that the accident occurs. However what we often fail to realize is that with driving there is always a silent accomplice in every accident.

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The car

Road safety analysts have proved that a country with a higher incidence of road accidents tends to also be a country with vehicles that are on average, unworthy of being on the road. In our country, cars in dangerous mechanical condition go unchecked as there aren’t many rigorous exercises in place to ensure that the cars that aren’t 100% road worthy will never get onto the tarmac/murram.

A slight shortcoming in the tires, lights, suspension, transmission, wipers and brakes can make all the difference in the crucial micro seconds that make the difference between a narrow escape and a horrifying accident. Unfortunately for us as road users, we are humans, not robots and therefore easily disregard the mechanical health of our vehicles not knowing that in a crisis on the road; your car is either your strongest ally or your deadliest threat.

Road accidents are always things that happen to other people. Until they happen to you. 

It is due to this reality that the Ministry of Works and Transport, following an international tender process, awarded SGS Automotive an exclusive contract to design, implement and perform roadworthiness inspections nationwide. SGS was tasked to ensure that all vehicles on Ugandan roads are subjected to safety and emission inspections and issued roadworthiness stickers.

SGS Automotive is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and Certification Company, employing over 90, 000 people in over 2000 offices worldwide.

The vehicle inspection exercise started in November in a mandatory exercise campaign branded ‘Safe Drive Uganda’ and has been ongoing ever since. Currently, there is one main inspection station in Namanve along Bombo Road and two mobile stations based at Namboole. Several other stations are under development and will be launched later in the year at Kawanda, Namanve, Nabbingo and Namulanda and various towns upcountry.

It is a simple exercise lasting roughly 30 minutes but it could save you all years of your life.

“Vehicle degradation happens slowly over a long period of time,” explains Susan Nava Communications Manager for SGS Automotive, says, adding: “As such, many people probably have it at their back of their minds that their car is safe, even when it is not the case.” 

Traffic Police together will other shareholders have been conscripted to aid the Ministry in working to fight back against the scourge of road accidents. However, stronger participation on the part of the public would go a long way to make the entire process easier for all.

The truth is, you never know that the car you are driving, (or the car that you are being driven in) is going to betray you until it is too late. Stay Safe. Stay Sure. Get your car inspected and advise others to do the same so that