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

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Kampala Hill to Hill Walk: A tale of road safety awareness, physical and mental triumph

By David Mujuni

The distance was 45km. The time to depart was 6am on Saturday June 17, 2023. The route would see the team walking from the starting point at Sheraton Hotel Parking, through the town, onto Bugolobi, then to Makindye, over to Namirembe, then to Wandegeya and back to the hotel parking. This was yet another activity that Mr Joseph Beyanga commonly known as Joe Walker was going to do as part of his efforts to raise awareness about the increasing road crashes in Uganda. The Kampala Hill-to-Hill walk presented another opportunity for the walkers to spread the road safety gospel further while unlocking new levels of personal achievements.

Joined by friends for yet another exhilarating experience that would test both their physical stamina and mental strength, the team were ready to walk.

The beginning

At about 5:45am, a group of over 50 road safety enthusiasts gathered at Sheraton Hotel parking in Kampala full of anticipation and zeal to conquer the journey. They kicked off their day with warm-up exercises (for about 15 minutes) mainly to ‘kill’ their sleepy mood as they prepared to walk through Kampala, through the hills, the urban streets, as well as good and potholed roads. 

While walking, pacing became essential an element for sustaining their energy and maintaining motivation

To some participants, the journey was not just about reaching the destination, but about embracing the experience and pushing their bodies beyond limits while fronting the main agenda of raising road safety awareness. 

The tough task

Walking, a seemingly simple activity [to Joe Walker] appeared to have a new meaning for other walkers as each kilometre mark was crossed. From muscle aches to fatigue, completing the baby walk (first 15 kilometres) took “forever” to accomplish as some participants kept asking Joe Walker “Are we passed the baby walk?”

The fresh Joe Walker, who was spotted taking selfies and watching the direction of the morning sun replied,  “You have covered 10 kilometres,” when they had reached the Ntinda-Nakawa road. At this point, the group had walked from the meeting point, Sheraton Hotel, through Kamwokya, Bukoto, and Ntinda.

While walking, hydration and pacing become essential elements for sustaining their energy and maintaining motivation, thanks to the Joe Walker team that served them with apples, water, and some bananas to keep them going. 

 The group rested for the first time at Sankara Library in Bugoloobi between 8:15am to 8:40am. They had a quick coffee and stretches before embarking on their journey for another 17km walk to Lukuli where they also had their lunch at about 1pm. 

The walkers at Sankara Library in Bugoloobi

Speaking of lunch, Melbourne Car Wash and Restaurant located in Lukuli – Makindye Division served mouth-watering meals but… it was the end for some participants. A number of walkers decided to stop at the mentioned destination citing the drizzle and fatigue after they had covered about 32 kilometres in total. What they had done however was no small thing. They had managed to walk such a long distance and keep steady. Their work was appreciated.

The moments

Did I mention that Joe Walker shocked many with his selfie moments? Well, a number of participants joined the activity later in the day as they learned to embrace discomfort. The journey instilled a sense of resilience as walkers started sharing jokes on the way. Conversations, laughter, and stories were shared, making the kilometres pass by more swiftly. 

Did I mention that Joe Walker shocked many with his selfie moments? Well, a number of participants joined the activity later in the day.

Before they knew it, they had covered the remaining 13 kilometres to make it 45 kilometres. The group concluded the exciting day with cool-down exercises at Sheraton Hotel Gardens at about 3:24pm. 

The roads

Commenting on his experience, Joe Walker said the walk was a unique one with a record 9:23 minutes per kilometre covered. He further shared his observation about the roads, drivers and his general experience while on the road. 

“Today’s experience was a unique and exciting one. I think as a group, it was our fastest 45km. We did an average of 9:23 minutes [per kilometre] which means people’s bodies are getting better if you compare this with when I started walking one and a half years ago,” Joe said. 

“What I encountered is some good roads, good drivers and there are also bad roads and some very bad drivers. We need more roads to be made just like the way the Ntinda Stretcher and Lukuli roads are where there is at least a provision for pedestrians to walk safely,” he added.

Message delivered 

Despite a number of walks held by Joe in a bid to raise awareness about road safety, more work needs to be done. Joe Walker and friends on Saturday discover that some people did not know why they were walking. 

Ms. Rachael Nabukko, one of the participants shared that she encountered a boda boda rider who had no helmet and side mirrors. 

“I was stopped by a boda man who asked about the reason we were walking. I explained to him and encouraged him to be more responsible as he uses the road, he didn’t have a helmet and side mirrors so I encouraged him to consider buying them in regards to road safety,” Ms Nabukko said. 

“Some asked whether we do the walk every Saturday I told them no, I tried and explained the different routes that Joe Walker has taken for this cause. I pray that we shall keep going ahead and road accidents will be no more in Uganda,” she added. 

Why do we walk? Please find quick statistics about road crashes in Uganda; Read here