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

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Joe Walker: Why I’m trekking to Fort Portal

By David Mujuni

After successfully completing two national walks from Kampala to Bushenyi and Mbale in 2022 and 2023 respectively, Joe Walker will embark on his third trek on February 26, 2024. This time, he sets his sights on Fort Portal Tourism City in Western Uganda, leading fellow walking enthusiasts on a 310-kilometer journey to raise awareness about road safety.

While raising awareness remains the core purpose, his choice of Fort Portal this year holds deeper meaning. Joe Walker whose official name is Joseph Beyanga recognizes the Kampala-Fort Portal highway’s significance in the national road network, highlighting Tooro Kingdom’s scenic beauty as an additional draw. 

“Fort Portal is a beautiful place to be. I can’t wait to experience the beautiful sceneries through the forest, the tea estates, and the whole process to climbing through the rift valley. Most importantly, just like other roads in Uganda, the Kampala to Fort Portal road has a story to tell in terms of the lives we have lost on that road,” he told this author in an interview. 

“I’m sure you remember the judge who lost his family on that road, the Link bus where 26 people died on spot and several others were injured. We need to and tell that story and highlight what happens there and how we can make it safe,” he added. 

He also praised the efforts of Tooro King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV in engaging his people in environmental activities and social causes. King Oyo will join the walk, lending his voice to the campaign.

“Tooro Kingdom probably has the world’s youngest Monarch and he has embraced a lot of development activities and he is looking at improving people’s health. He is doing a lot to make people’s lives better and yes, he is joining in the walk,” Joe Walker said. 


Joe Walker emphasizes the importance of both mental and physical preparedness for the 7-8 day trek. He follows a strict training program and plans logistics with his team. To boost his endurance, he aims to gain 2kg by February 26th, explaining, “I don’t want to be underweight by the time we finish.” He also connects virtually with registered participants, ensuring everyone prepares optimally.

Beyond painting Zebra Crossings

While painting zebra crossings and visiting schools remain part of the journey, Joe plans to engage more deeply with roadside communities this time. He plans to interact with leaders, respecting local customs, and work closely with Tooro’s cultural heads for impactful communication.

“The activities will take us to schools, markets, radio stations and they will keep us on the road. The dynamics in Tooro are different; in Tooro, the elders and leaders are way more respected than any other place we’ve been to, so it is important that you work a lot more closely with the existing leaders, communities and structures to have effective communication,” said Joe Walker. 

Logistics for Participants

Participation in the Kampala-Fort Portal walk is free, but Joe Walker advises participants to bring extra cash for meals and accommodation. Well-wishers will provide refreshments, while participants can expect to spend an average of Shs150,000 per day at the most, for lodging and three meals. Reflective jackets, water, basic first aid and transportation for luggage will be provided. The group is expected to cover 310 kilometers in about 7 to 8 days. 

Saving Lives, One Step at a Time

For Joe Walker, the Fort Portal trek signifies another chapter in his ongoing road safety campaign. His unwavering goal is to save at least one life every day through his initiative.

“The Kampala to Fort Portal journey is like any other walk. The goal is to go out, create awareness, even if one life is saved every day.” 

Conquering challenges

While determined to reach Fort Portal, Joe Walker acknowledges the challenges posed by ongoing construction on certain sections of the highway. The team is exploring options like practicing with face masks to combat dust in dust-heavy areas around Kyegegwa District.

Safety measures on the road

Walkers are urged to stay on the right side of the road, wear reflective gear at all times, and prioritize rehydration. Paramedics will accompany the group to provide assistance if needed. Joe Walker recommends sticking to familiar, easily digestible food during the walk.

“You are burning a lot of calories, if you don’t have them you will burn your bones. So on feeding, don’t eat anything that is strange to you. Keep it to basic foods that your body is used to. Finally, we work with the police in our walks; they always notify us in areas where they need to clear way for us,” he adds. 

Lessons learned

Reflecting on past treks, Joe acknowledges how much he has learned. His first walk to Bushenyi was driven by pure passion, while his journey to Mbale taught him the importance of team support and preparation. Now, with a structured training plan in place, Joe Walker is working hard to ensure that every participant is physically and mentally prepared for the challenge.

The positive response from communities fuels Joe’s ongoing mission. He knows the message is getting out there, and that’s what keeps him moving forward, one step at a time.

To participate, register for the Kampala to Fort Portal walk via https://joewalker.org/fort-portal-walk-2024/