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City disorder the cause of road rage, and not boda bodas

Road rage is becoming an epidemic in Kampala with grave economic, security and health consequences. Road rage is anger or violence between drivers, often caused by difficult driving conditions.

Often a motorist uses their car as a weapon to retaliate against other drivers. The result of this is traffic jam, lost hours of productivity, pollution, lost income, emotional drain, accidents and death.

A 2017 World Bank report put the economic loss caused by traffic jam at a whopping $800 million. According to the Health Sector Performance Report of 2019/20, injuries from road traffic accidents, including boda boda accidents, were on the rise, accounting for 45 per cent of all injuries and among the top 10 causes of death.

The tragic event on Sunday morning October 17, 2021 in Mengo, Kampala when Aziz Bashir was brutally murdered by a group of boda boda men is a hallmark to the road rage in Kampala. Apparently, Aziz’s car was scratched by a boda boda rider.

There was disagreement between the two as to the amount to pay for the car repairs and the boda boda rider managed to disappear in a crowd of rowdy fellow riders. In a bid to pursue the rider, Aziz knocked down another boda boda rider. He was chased by the mob of boda boda riders, pulled out of his car, lynched, and the car ransacked.

Interestingly, among the killers was a police constable (ironically one sworn to protect law and order). There are many incidents of this nature that happen everyday but because they do not result into death, are merely brushed aside.

Lately, drivers have become extremely unruly. Everyone seems to be in such a haste to reach their destination or, better put, to return to the Creator. The ‘bigger’ the size of the vehicle or its occupants, the more right of way they accord themselves.

Driving in the oncoming lane has become the order of the day. Oncoming cars must squeeze into available spaces. But if they happen to be ‘bigger,’ then the drivers squeeze back into the right lane, endangering those behind.

Vehicles drive on walkways, switch lanes at will, clogging up the roads and creating unimaginable traffic holdup. The biggest transgressors are government vehicles, security, buses and heavy trucks. The ‘smaller’ road users, particularly pedestrians and cyclists, inevitably must squeeze into this mess which puts their lives in danger.

Car scratches have, therefore, become a norm and pedestrians have had to toughen up and compete for use of the roads. Many times, when minor traffic incidents (such as scratches or injuries that do not require hospitalization) happen, no one (including the police) is bothered. If someone seems to wield some power, they can demand for some compensation.

Otherwise, the parties move on and sort their damages. The lack of law and order on the roads has created a ‘survival of the fittest’ environment and taxi operators and boda boda riders have adopted fast to develop a ‘thick skin’ to be able to get around.

It is important to note that the body boda business is one of the biggest employers of youth in the Kampala metropolitan area. These riders should be guided with a code of conduct to get into the boda boda trade with rules and regulations to ensure law and order.

Many boda boda riders are individually good people who come into the city to earn an honest living. However, the conditions that prevail on our roads leave no room for a weak person. Boda bodas have, therefore, become renegades living on the edge of the law and rely on their group numbers for protection. However, the population of Kampala is very big (3.5 million people) by day and growing.

There are over 400,000 vehicles, which is four times what the city infrastructure can hold. These statistics from a Friedrich Elbert Stiftung report released last month show that an efficient public transport system is urgently needed to improve flow of traffic in the city.

Authorities, including MPs, have in the recent past proposed drafting regulations for boda boda business. A policy framework is certainly needed for overall stewardship.

However, we have not exhausted the available avenues to streamline boda boda transport and we shall not be able to legislate each and everything on the land. What we need in the short term is enforcement of discipline by all road users.

The author is the executive director, HEPS-Uganda.


+1 #1 Akot 2021-11-27 18:48
Uganda rage is due to bad/evil rule! Museveni rules through the tribalistic system so has turned Ugandans against one another & they fight themselves instead of fighting for their FREEDOM in UNITY!

Unless Ugandans become ONE PEOPLE, to ensure Museveni is OUT, then put in place the kind of governance they want, things will only get worse for them, especially as they legalise the evil ruler every 5 years through fake presidential & parliamentary elections!

Ugandans aren't even concerned of what the situation will be when Museveni dies & leaves them in the tribalistic system, without common goal but with Museveni's son as the only next ruler/alternative!

It's as if Uganda began with Museveni & family & can only go on with them ruling, owning tax money, using Ugandans against one another.... to ensure the family business!
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+1 #2 Dannick 2021-11-29 08:29
Boda bodas cannot drive in the right lane when none is designed for them.

When even the smallest spaces are taken up by the vehicle drivers. Then those same entitled drivers begin bashing bodas for the chaos caused by themselves and the road designers.

Kampala isn't bike friendly at all even to other would be private riders, and it isn't because of boda bodas.
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+1 #3 Lakwena 2021-11-29 10:52
In other words Denis, right from the Head of State, the chaos/disorder in our urban centers and suburbs are the direct reflection of the chaos/disorder and culture of lawlessness in the minds of those in-charge, likewise the road users.
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