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

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The difficult realities of walking on Kampala roads

By David Mujuni

As the sun began to rise over our capital city Kampala, a group of determined walkers set out on a 60-kilometre journey. Yes, I know. For many this sounds crazy, but for these walkers, this was something they had eagerly been waiting for. The walk was not only for personal fitness and leisure but to honor the memory of road crash victims and raise awareness about road safety. 

While most teams wanted to top the relay, team The Panthers (David Mujuni, Doreen Nasasira, Becky Kategaya, Catherine Ageno, Collins Bareija aka Emeka, & Ronald Senvuma), set a goal of making sure everyone completes his or her task (covering 10 kilometres).

Divided into six teams of six members each, the walkers took turns carrying a baton and no walker was allowed to carry the baton for more than 10km. 

Trouble starts

The morning rain, which began at around 8am, tested the walkers’ resolve, but Joe Walker (the organizer) kept motivating us with encouraging words and somehow, we all managed to push through. 

Despite the challenges posed by the weather, poor road conditions, and some motorists who failed to respect the walkers’ presence on the pavement, the walking community proved how they were determined to sensitise locals about road safety while walking for both fitness and leisure. 

“Move…move… move,” the boda boda rider kept shouting at the Kisaasi stop as the walkers looked on.  “Please use the road, this is for pedestrians,” a lady boldly told the boda guy, who was carrying matooke and banana stems. 

Confused on what to say to the group, he quietly veered off the walkway before continuing with his journey heading to the direction of Busega. 

As we approached Kyebando flyover at around midday, the rain, which was much more than the initial light rain hit the ground, leaving walkers worried. 

The switch

The boda guy drama happened after I had handed over the baton to Doreen, who was by 10am heading back from Naalya as Emeka waited for his turn of the sweet pain. My job at this point was to make sure the rest of the members didn’t show up too early since the rain had already disorganized our schedule, but… it was too late. 

Cathy was already at the Kyebando flyover waiting for Emeka, who at this point was also waiting for Doreen. To cut the long story short, Doreen finally came through and the relay continued as planned with Cathy, Becky, and Ronald covering their 10-km tasks respectively. 

The Panthers’ Becky Nantale finally hit the road in the afternoon to complete the team’s second last 10km route.

Talk about it

For a group that reached Lugogo at 6am, no one was thinking or talking about eating, as the guides made sure the walkers had apples, bananas, water and other sugars to refill their “engines”. There were a few cases of people failing to follow the correct route after Kisaasi but the guides later came to their rescue. Kudos to the guides! 

Separating boys from men/girls from women

Despite appearing shorter and more familiar to most walkers, the Wandegeya-Kampala Central through Kololo route was the toughest for many walkers. It seemed easy but the circular loops, hills, slopes, and potholes made it the toughest route. My two walking partners and I slowed to as low as 4.5 kilometres per hour (our average had been about 9/10 kilometres per hour). 

At some point in Kololo, we realised our sugars had gone low, so we bought one soda (Fanta) and shared it before continuing to the finish line. 

As we crossed the finish line, a sense of accomplishment filled the air. We had not only completed our physical journey but had also taken a symbolic step towards a safer future for Ugandan roads. I had personally clocked 20km on the route.

The rain and hard-hitting sunshine had nothing on the walkers, and as a second-time walker, I believe it is safe to say the walk was a success.