If there is one thing that annoys participants at Uganda Management Institute, it should be the zebra crossing just adjacent to the institute’s main gate.
The unrestrained proliferation of motor vehicles in the capital over the years combined with poor road culture and serious lack of awareness of traffic ethics by the taxi drivers only makes using the zebra crossings a nightmare for learners. People are merciless on those streets! The situation is even worse during lunch time and late evening time from 7pm to 9pm.
With no traffic lights or humps, 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 the students or other pedestrians, only for a speeding boda boda to plough into the crossing party.
At times, I am left to wonder whether some of our drivers can read road signs, let on understand what they mean. The traffic police and UMI management can do better in this regard. They need to work together on the general user-unfriendliness of UMI’s zebra crossings for the pedestrians.
For instance, they can install a traffic light around the institute’s main gate, create a hump or even get volunteers to help students cross the roads especially on the busiest time of the evening around 7pm to 9pm where everyone is rushing home.
Secure women’s rights to safe abortions
Sections 141, 142 & 143 of the Penal Code Act Cap 120 criminalize safe abortion and any attempt to procure it. However, is it fair for government to impose pregnancies on poor women, including pregnancies of rapists? Is it fair for government to control women’s bodies as its property to carry unwanted pregnancies?
Sections of the penal code that prohibit safe abortions appear to contravene some parts of the 1995 Constitution. Women should consider petitioning the Constitutional court to rule on the level of inconsistency in these laws.
Laws are enacted to uphold the principle of equality of women to men. If government lacks capacity to compel every man who causes a pregnancy to meet costs of carrying it, it should not single out poor women to carry pregnancies to full term.
If government lacks funds to neither ensure welfare of women carrying unwanted pregnancies nor compel responsible men to meet these costs, it should not abuse poor women as scapegoats to carry baggage of men.
If the law defines ages of persons starting from their dates of birth, it should not define life as starting from conception to the detriment of poor women who are unfairly forced to bear burdens of unwanted pregnancies.
The law should not be ambiguous. Women and men should be judged based on the same set of laws not different sets of laws. Government should amend the law to save poor women from crude back-street abortions.
Save Kiira Motors
I hear the lack of money is one of the challenges facing the commercial production of the Kiira EV and Kayoola bus. Being fully government-funded, its vote is still controlled by parliament, a factor that exposes it to the financing vagaries facing ministries, departments and agencies. If we must fast-track the realisation of the Kiira dream, we have two things to correct.
First, its legal status must change to a profit-oriented, independent company, though government-owned and financed. Currently, it appears to be a ministry, department, agency, parastatal, academic institution, all rolled in one. This is understandable, thanks to its origin. But it must outgrow this into an independent research and innovation company.
In the eyes of the public and parliament that appropriates funds, Kiira Motors keeps the tag of a university faculty innovation. It must outgrow this. Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) must take over as the holding company of Kiira Motors, draw a strategic plan for the company and seek local and regional investors to partner with.
Secondly, Kiira Motors should concentrate on their core competence; namely, the electric engine. All research, innovation and development should focus on perfecting this. Professor Tickodri Togboa and his team of innovators will only deliver Uganda to an industrial-power status by focusing on research, innovation on all tribes of engines, from an aeronautic engine to a shaver motor. Let Kiira become our General Electric.
With the engine developed and perfected, we get another independent company to do the assembling, with components sourced from other manufacturers, both local and regional/international.
Motor vehicle manufacturing, like other forms of industrialisation, evolves through phases and this is what the Kiira dream must go through. Given our level of technology, we can only start from the SKD (semi-knock down) stage, where components are imported in finished form for local assembling (or even joinery).
Kenya and Egypt have even moved a notch higher, with most assembling companies now manufacturing vehicles from the CKD (complete knock down) stage, where only a few key components (notably the engine and transmission) are imported in kit form, with most of the processes and additional components being locally manufactured by contracted manufacturers. Kenyan assembled buses, for example, have as high as 80 per cent local content.
We have pacesetters to benchmark.
Makerere needs to clean up its image
It has been ugly scenes as students at Makerere University protest a 15 per cent increment in tuition fees. This is killing the credibility of the oldest university, and therefore the top administration must be overhauled. There have been perennial strikes and demonstrations which are largely caused by unpopular policies such as raising tuitions.
It is prevalent that almost every year students go on strike. This discontent has been around for a while, since August 1952 when students petitioned the college principal Bernad de Bunsen and protested over the quality of food they were being served.
I appeal to the university to gazette the rules of the university so that they may have legal effect. Students have appealed to courts of law when they have been dismissed from the university, and the university lost the case because the rules were not gazetted.
The university needs to identify the causes of such endemic strikes and there must be proper consultations between administrators, parents, student leaders and the entire students’ body.
Prince Obed Twijukye,