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, friends take on 300km challenge to Fort Portal

By David Mujuni

In the wee hours of Monday morning, Joe Walker and his fellow trekkers gathered at the Independence Monument in Kampala to take on yet another challenge. Despite the chill brought by the previous night’s rain, the group were united by a common goal: spreading road safety awareness in Uganda.

The walkers began arriving as early as 6am, determined to conquer over 300 kilometres in their road safety awareness drive that is expected to last for 9 days. 

The arrival of the chief guest, Transport and Works Minister Gen Katumba Wamala, further bolstered the group’s spirit. In his address, Gen Katumba stressed the importance of collective responsibility in ensuring road safety, urging Ugandans to become active participants in the movement.

“We highly appreciate him [Joe Walker] and the team but we also appreciate the media houses because they have also been out there promoting road safety. Road safety is a responsibility of all of us. It is not about the ministry setting laws, it’s about every one of us getting involved and feeling for the other road users,” Katumba said. 

The Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Katumba Wamala together with walkers pose for a group photo ahead of the Joe Walker Kampala to Frot Portal walk on February 26, 2024. PHOTO/David Mujuni

“Not everybody or anyone driving an SUV has the right of way. We are going to crack on these government officials and ensure that we have order on our roads,” added Katumba. 

His words resonated deeply with Joe Walker, a road safety activist leading the drive. 

Speaking before the start, Joe Walker, also known as Mr. Joseph Beyanga, reiterated his mission to restore sanity on Uganda’s roads. He highlighted the alarming number of road fatalities and emphasised the urgent need for change. He also pointed out the challenges faced by pedestrians due to infrastructure that prioritises vehicles, making their journeys risky. 

“If you have been in touch with the news, as the police released the report last week, we lost 4,806 people last year, all of them killed in road crashes and several others seriously injured. We are saying that’s the number of people who should not be dying, that is avoidable death,” Joe Walker said. 

“There are basic things which are important in road safety: engineering, enforcement and education. One of the things we would like to appreciate with the NRM government, yes forget about the roads in Kampala, but if you go on the highways, the roads are good but why are our people still dying? Is the enforcement sleeping?” wondered Joe Walker.  

Also present at the flag off was Mr. Winstone Katushabe, Commissioner Transport Regulation and Safety, and renowned media personalities Kasuku and Emeka the Romatic Mukiga.

At approximately 6:45am, Gen Katumba officially flagged off the walk. This marked Joe Walker’s third national trek, following successful walks to Bushenyi in 2022 and Mbale in 2023. 

The determined group had already conquered over 17 kilometres by 10 am, reaching their first rest stop and breakfast point in Buloba. Their journey has just begun, and they hope to go through the various districts of Mityana, Mubende, Kyeggegwa, and Kyenjojo before their final destination, in Kabarole where Fort Portal City is situated.