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

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Day Two: The daily struggle of pedestrians on Ugandan roads

By Joe Walker

We set off from Bujjuko at exactly 7am, and walked the ups and downs and corners of Jeeza in the morning drizzle till 9am or thereabouts.

All through the rain I couldn’t help but keep wondering and praying about crazy drivers speeding on wet roads, overtaking in corners with compromised visibility, the boda bodas carrying three children on one bike going to school and young ones braving the rain, walking to school.

Just like it is in Mengo, Wakaligga, Nateete, Busega, Bulenga, Buloba, and Buyala, so it is in Bujjuko and Mityana; there are no pedestrian walkways and even those that exist have seen unruly traders turn them into roadside markets under the sleeping eyes of the authorities.

As we trekked out of the corners of Jeeza and crossed from Mpigi into Mityana, the roads got friendlier for pedestrians; at least we could breathe and didn’t have to jump over some merchandise and squeeze between drainage channels and makeshift boda boda stages.
At Kamuli we were welcomed by a memorial sign of Omuzaveri XP Semujju Waswa Francis, who perished in a road crash as he returned home with friends after a church service. That was what Richard Kizito Mukaalazi, a resident of Kamuli Buwalula, Mityana told us.
In Buwalula town, we had a very nice and honest conversation with boda boda riders of whom most said they had never had any formal training in riding the motorcycle, neither the basics of traffic regulations. They think they are not important and all one needs is to know how to ride.

As we strolled out of Buwalula, we met traffic police officers at a police checkpoint. Here, we had another honest conversation of the day reechoing what we have heard from other police officers on the route so far. I think the Police are the most abused group, by citizens and the politicians, and the latter can’t even let them do their job.

Their everyday menu includes impunity, speeding, overloading, and reckless driving from the drivers of vehicles owned by big politicians, and intimidation by politicians when they attempt to enforce the laws.
Also, most of the police officers don’t think express penalty schemes are effective in curbing recklessness and careless driving. Did you know that there are vehicles on the road which have accumulated more than 87 express penalty tickets?!

How do you accumulate 87 EPS tickets and think you are competent to continue driving? You are a danger to yourself.
As we hit the homestretch towards Zigoti, we found the children from Little Flowers Kindergarten at Kiwaginzi struggling to cross the road amidst flying “drones”, subarus, Link buses, and trailers. We jumped in to help them cross the road. Methinks UNRA should mark this area a school zone and put speed barriers to make it safe for children to #GetHomeSafe. There are about 3 schools in the same area and nothing to protect the children.

As we crossed through Zigoti to Mityana, we realised that as much as the road on this stretch is fairly motorable, it can do with some signage and markings. Drivers need to do their part too, which is exercise some patience, observe speed limits, avoid overtaking in corners and where there are climbing lanes, use them. Together we can improve the safety on our roads and we all #GetHomeSafe because we are #TooYoungToDie.