I am Joe Walker aka Joseph Beyanga, a road safety enthusiast raising awareness about saving lives on the road.

+256 782 602061


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DAY ONE: High Energy and awesome time management

It was 5:15pm when we were done and docked at Namataba for the night. The weather was good and made it tempting to roll on but it would be suicide. Our advance team wouldn’t be able to find suitable and affordable accommodation 10km ahead and neither could we risk walking into the deep of the night through Mabira forest.

The day started with awesomeness, something very rare of our government officials. At exactly 6:00am, the Deputy Speaker’s advance team was at the Independence Monument, the venue for the flag-off. At 6:15am, they announced that Rt. Hon. Tayebwa would be with us in 10 minutes or so and at 6:29am, he arrived ready to flag us off. After a few words and a prayer by Pastor Micah Rwothumio of UCF, at 6:40am, Tayebwa flagged us off and we hit the road to Mbale. I walked and had a good chat with Commissioner of Road Safety at Ministry of Works, Mr. Winstone Katushabe. Then my good friend and musician Ykee Benda joined us at Garden City roundabout and when I turned to look around I saw Kasuku, Ruth Kalibala and many others had joined in. And we were zooming. A team of young vibrant energetic walkers led by sports journalist Andrew Mwanguhya looked like they were on steroids and by the time we got to Jinja Road police station, I had lost total sight of them.

With birthday boy Brian Mulondo who was my regular walk mate on the trek to Bushenyi by my side, we hit the tarmac and did a few updates live on 933KFM. We were cruising smoothly and faster until we got to Banda and the pedestrian walkways or the semblance of them vanished. We started competing surfaces to walk on with Boda bodas. In the squeezed trenches I picked up a conversation with 3 young men walking to a construction site where they work as porters. They shared their near fatal experience around Kireka market on their daily commute to work. The conversation was disrupted by a Boda guy carrying 3 school kids who almost rammed into us as we dodged him. My new friends vanished into a sea of people each trying their best to beat the morning rush.

That left me wondering why the city, with more than 50% of its day population as pedestrians, doesn’t invest in infrastructure that equitably and safely serve all of us.

That experience seemed like it was ushering us to what would be our terrain for the next 4 hours of walking. The stretch from Banda to Mbalala is a living nightmare for all road users; narrow unmarked road with no signs, careless driving, roadside parking, taxis stopping to pick and drop passengers at any point, Boda bodas forever in a rush. It was hard to walk that stretch but thank God for the Ugandan flag. It seems to be equally respected by boda riders and truck drivers than many other things; it created a safe passage for us in the middle of madness.

As we zoomed past Seeta, our numbers started shrinking faster than the disappearing hair on my head. But it was nothing short of what I had predicted. As we entered Mukono where we had our first stopover, I think two of us gave up and I think I saw them on Boda bodas riding back to Kampala. Thank you for supporting #JoeWalker causes.

As we moved through this stretch, I believe I got a new name; on the previous walk to Bushenyi, I was the Rasta.
Now out of the blue two sets of Traffic police officers called me Mzee Rasta and then several taxi guys and boda chaps started calling me Swahaba.

After our brief stopover in Mukono, we rolled on, targeting Namawojjolo for our lunch. That’s approximately a 12 km walk between 12 and 3pm. Many were scared of the scorching sun. A quick check on the weather app showed there was a bigger chance it would rain on us. Shortly after Mbalala, the skies opened up and we stayed the course…none of us stepped off the road. With everyone “cleansed” and refreshed after our lunch break we strolled on to Namataba for the night.

As we rest, I hope we have a better road experience on the stretch to Jinja and pray that we get safer roads designed and built with all users in mind and safety at heart.