When the president assented to the National Social Security Fund (Amendments) Bill 2021, savers out of employment like myself expected a better future.
However, the statutory instruments later defined contributions for 120 months (10 years) instead of having saved for 120 months. According to NSSF policy, only members aged 45 years and above who have contributed for 120 months are eligible for 20 per cent mid-term access benefits.
Since I am out of employment, to raise these contributions, I struggled with minimal resources to recover non-remittances from my previous employers who had failed to submit my savings. I also enrolled for voluntary savings.
I am told when a company fails to remit a saver’s savings for years, they are penalised. How does a saver who has missed profits and used meagre resources like paid legal aid service to follow up missing remittances benefit from such penalty?
I am now 47 years. I have worked for over 25 years with current contributions of 122 months and out of employment but still not entitled to NSSF mid-term benefits. Which better life does NSSF boast of when vulnerable savers cannot access their savings for family basic needs and children’s education in these harsh economic times?
If savers cannot process mere mid-term benefits while still alive, who will manage to withdraw their survivors’ benefits when a saver dies?
What is the fate of thousands of illiterate savers, most of whom with missing documents? Who is feasting on such unclaimed billions of shillings?
Makerere chaos was bad PR
The images of security forces dragging Makerere University intellectuals’ on the floor during the convocation vote have left 2022 with a stain on the Ivory Tower.
Whereas there might have been inconsistency in the process leading to the vote, various avenues ought to have been utilized for redress, including courts of law.
Many Makerere Guild presidential candidates have run to court before whenever they felt cheated in the handling of elections. However, on voting day, we had alumni shouting their voices hoarse that they would not be participants in a “fraudulent process.”
This was followed by outright defiance of university authorities that left the military police and Uganda police as the only arbiters. Such was the faceoff that the alumni bitterly lost in great humiliation. Were the alumni so aggrieved that they dared a physical confrontation with the security forces?
Were the organizers of the convocation elections oblivious of the potential for suspicion of the whole process before voting day? What was done to make the process legitimate? The entire event left a black mark on Makerere University that the management may need to address as soon as possible.
Africa’s energy transition must not be rushed
The speed at which Africa is being pushed into climate action alliances by global industrial capitalistic nations that are known to have polluted the world for more years raises suspicion.
Like several times before, Africa remains the least industrialized, the least developed and a home to the world’s second largest tropical rainforest in DR Congo. And yet it is the most vulnerable continent to climate-driven disasters.
In the face global warming attributed to fossil fuels, a natural resource-rich Africa remains the least polluter, emitting about five per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, according to International Energy Agency (IEA).
Whether vulnerability warnings are issued in good faith or not, it has already made the continent risky to future projected investments. As it stands, green infrastructure presents Westerners enormous opportunities to reap big from Africa as has been the case during slavery, portioning and colonization as we import their technology, borrow finances, and seek consultancy capacity building.
Every continent/nation ought to deal with climate change issues in a manner deemed fit and safe without compromising resource bases. Africa should exploit its fossil resources (21.5 per cent of global non-renewables) to manufacture new cars and stop importing old ones, which our ‘holy’ allies are silent about.
The choice of quality of trees being planted in Africa ought to be reviewed. Industries, factories and human settlements should not be built in wetlands. Urbanization should occupy semi-arid dry areas, not in fertile areas.
Govt should regulate boda bodas
With all the accidents currently taking place in Uganda, one would expect government to deal with boda bodas in the areas of legislation, enforcement and training and awareness. There should be a law by now on how to acquire a boda boda, and operate it in a safe mode.
It is estimated that there are more than one million bodas in Uganda and almost 60 per cent of these cycles are domiciled in greater Kampala, Mukono, Mpigi and Wakiso. These are the most economically-productive places. This means that they account for the most road accidents.
However, government is not doing much to solve the problem of road accidents. Boda bodas have facilitated crime in Uganda more than any other means of transport. And yet, the boda bodas continue to roam free.
It is estimated that more than 24,000 man-hours are lost in traffic jams each year. The lost time is an indication of the monetary loss and pollution attributed to the congestion.
Again, the boda boda accidents and the deaths have a direct impact on the economy. Most of these accident victims are adults who in most cases are breadwinners of their families. The boda boda accidents survivors cost government a lot of money through medication and hospitalization.
There is a ward in Arua regional referral hospital called Senke ward. Senke is a type of motorcycle. That ward was named Senke because 90 per cent of its patients are a result of a boda boda accident.
There is need to have all new boda bodas fitted with GPS system for monitoring. Each boda boda must belong to a certain Sacco. No individual boda boda owners should be allowed to operate in Uganda.
Each boda should be given special identification number that will appear on the helmet, the reflector jacket and the motorcycle itself. Boda boda payments should go cashless like uber, etc. This also helps in tracking a criminal involved in boda boda business. Finally, as a country, we need these motorcycles but we cannot compromise safety.
Lifestyles are cause of accidents
Many accidents occur in Uganda towards the end of the year. The fate of fatalities is usually high. During the festive season of 2021, the police reported 58 deaths in road accidents. And around the same period in 2022, the police recorded 160 deaths. These numbers should concern all of us.
Our lifestyle in Uganda as the year ends greatly puts our lives at risk. There is just too much travel upcountry, reckless drink driving, and depression – all of which are causing these problems.
The first and major lifestyle factor is increased travelling. As the year ends, everyone plans and organises to travel upcountry to either check on their family members or simply have fun.
This increases traffic on the roads. The second factor is reckless drink driving. December is always a month of holidays and Christmas celebrations. Many people are enjoying holidays after a long work schedule.
So, it's their time to relax and enjoy the break. However, many engage in drinking and yet they have to drive back home.
Lastly is depression. Depression is a mental disorder when someone experiences a feeling when everything feels too hard; when you feel so low that things you previously enjoyed no longer hold the same joy. In December, many people get depressed due to many demands from families.
Some are depressed because the year is ending, and they have not achieved their goals in the year. These accidents can be reduced if people check their way of living during the festive season.
People need to reduce their drinking, avoid drink-drinking and also the government should put strict laws and regulations on public transport, especially the buses, whereby they should have strict speed limits on their upcountry trips.