The police have started an operation targeting drivers who don’t respect zebra crossing points in Kampala.
According to press reports, within the first hour of the operation, some 40 motorists had been apprehended at the zebra crossing point opposite the main Post Office on Kampala road.
This wouldn’t surprise anyone because Ugandan motorists have long realised that zebra crossings are an inconvenience they can skip without suffering any consequences.
Because they have become almost pointless, zebra crossing points are not common in Kampala. In fact, there is hardly any besides the one at Post Office. Even the many roads under construction haven’t factored zebra crossing in.
Zebra crossing aside, traffic and city authorities need to work on the general user-unfriendliness of Kampala’s streets for pedestrians. KCCA has done its part to have roadsides paved; so, the walking experience has improved significantly in many areas.
However, crossing from one side of the street to another remains a nightmare. This has been exacerbated by the proliferation of boda bodas. The person crossing must not only focus on the vehicles but also the numerous boda bodas, which moreover have no regard for any traffic rules.
It’s not uncommon to see a considerate motorist stop to give way to schoolchildren or other pedestrians, only for a speeding boda boda to plough into the crossing party.
In organised cities, a pedestrian is treated with utmost respect and cars will stop, even where there is no zebra crossing, for people to cross. While Ugandans might have gotten used to the hustle, it must be a nightmare for visitors or tourists whose numbers Uganda is desperate to grow.
Fortunately, even motorists will at one point park their cars and cross the street. What awaits them when they do is not funny. Therefore, it’s in the interest of everyone to have a city where motorists and riders respect pedestrians with or without zebra crossing.
The long-overdue police operation is welcome but it makes more sense if it stays in place much longer, more zebra crossings are created, and respected, and boda bodas are held to the same traffic rules as cars.