By Alex Luyimbazi
Drunken driving, impunity and over-speeding were pointed out as the major causes of road accidents along Entebbe road, claiming two lives every week. This was revealed by Norman Musinga the Kampala metropolitan traffic police commander during an inspection of the expressway stretch from Abayita Ababiri to Kitoro along Entebbe road. “We have tried as police to patrol day and night but of course we may not be everywhere, which takes us back to the discipline of our drivers who should respect other road users as well as obeying traffic rules and regulations,” Musinga explained. The traffic police commander was however, hesitant to give a detailed report regarding the accidents since the expansion of Entebbe expressway began. Similarly, Moses Kafero the Kampala metropolitan police commander added that, most of the road accidents happen on weekends, caused by drunken drivers returning from different beaches in Entebbe area.
Last year, Police in Entebbe was forced to fire teargas to disperse Nkumba university students who had blocked Kampala-Entebbe highway in demonstration of what they termed as frequent accidents on the highway. The incident was sparked by a hit-and-run accident which claimed the life of Lang Gatot, 25years, a university student and South Sudanese national, in the wee hours of a night. His sudden demise sparked a strike within circles of fellow nationals from South Sudan, before being joined by other students, chanting in protest of the continued motor accidents along Entebbe road.
Alleged causes of accidents on Entebbe road
The completion and subsequent grand opening of Entebbe expressway in 2018, brought much hope in the transport sector, easing traffic flow on Uganda’s gateway route. The Expressway project which cost Uganda over Sh1.2 trillion, gave an opportunity for an expansion of Entebbe road from two to four lanes, from areas of Mpala in Katabi town council up to the airport.
The easy traffic flow has resulted into rampant motor accidents, claiming twelve lives on average, every after twenty four hours- according to corridor reports. Mathew Kibuuka the manager in charge of data at Entebbe general hospital contends that most of the accidents happen at night. “Most of the accident victims are brought and just dropped at the hospital, without any information or data.” explained Kibuuka. Motorists have taken advantage of the new swift road, to recklessly drive at a terrific speed, knocking down pedestrians and road furniture.
Entebbe better known as a hang-out destination due to the big number of beaches and night clubs in the area, has contributed to fatal accidents on the highway. A medical worker at Kazuri clinic which is found at Katabi stage in Entebbe municipality puts the number of accident victims at four every after one day, that are taken to the clinic. “Every time am attending night duties, I receive at least two accident casualties before referring them to Entebbe general hospital for further treatment.” said the medical personnel at Kazuri clinic. Obadiah Ssewanyana the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in charge of traffic at Entebbe police station recently noted that many accidents go unnoticed by the traffic police because they are not reported.
Sharp-pointed railings separating lanes
The sharp-pointed railings which separate the four lanes, were mentioned as another cause of deaths on the Uganda’s gateway route. Julius Tumusiime a boda boda cyclist at Katabi Gombolola stage revealed that some people who suffer motor accidents are finished off by the sharp-pointed pipes which were put as separators between the lanes. “I have seen over eight people knocked down, only for their lives to be finished off by those metals.” said Tumusiime. In 2018, area leaders including Vincent Kayanja the Entebbe municipality mayor and Ronald Kalema the Katabi town council chairperson, addressed the issue of sharp pointed metals to the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA). In response, the sharp pointed railings of metallic bars were covered with a pipe, wielded on top.
Arrogance of some road users
Standing along Entebbe road, one can’t miss to see at least three people in every ten passing vehicles, who drive while talking on phone. Having evidently witnessed such a scenario, this reporter engaged a traffic officer who seemed to be doing nothing about drivers cruising while talking on phone. “Most of those are soldiers whom we have tried to put to order, but in vain.” said a lady traffic officer. Although driving personal saloon cars, most of the drivers seen talking on phone, had military wear inside personal vehicles. The traffic officer who preferred not to be mentioned, said, such people usually deviate from allocated lanes hence causing accidents.
Allen Kagina the Executive Director for the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) paid a courtesy visit to different spots along Entebbe road in February this year. The inspection, according to the ED, was to ascertain the nature of each accident and the likely cause. “We are looking at it, to see whether it’s a design fault or whether there are other safety measures we can put in place to mitigate these rampant accidents,” noted Kagina. She also revealed that, a review meeting was to be convened to find mechanisms of intervention. According to Kagina, once a driver knocks road furniture, they’re supposed to repair it. “We shall be using the cameras to trace for all bad road-users more so those who have been knocking the railings which separate the four lanes,” she warned.