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Behind the Wheel: How Road Blocks Foster Traffic Violations on Masaka-Kyotera Road

To enhance road safety, there’s an urgent need for swift security responses to whistleblowers, ensuring the apprehension of errant drivers and conductors.

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By Ivan Kaahwa

On the 1st of December 2023, I embarked on a journey from the Costa Stage at the New Taxi Park in Kampala at 6 am to Rakai District, assigned to cover the World AIDS Day celebrations. Given the absence of a direct route to Rakai, I opted for Kyotera, a location closer to the main event. The usual traffic obstacles greeted us, and upon reaching Masaka, only two colleagues and I remained in the Mini Bus. The driver assured us of a Toyota HIACE drone to lead us further.

In the typical Ugandan public transport fashion, we squeezed into the drone, exceeding the recommended 14 passengers. During the journey, stopovers were frequent, and the conductor insisted on further compression, now seating four people per row. Locals seemed accustomed, but I, preoccupied with reaching the event, worried about security protocols due to potential lateness since the Head of State had already arrived at the event.

As we continued, the overloaded taxi reached an alarming 26 passengers, hurtling at 100-110 km/h on a road pocked with potholes. Concerned, I took to Twitter (X) to report the situation about overloading and speeding, seeking police intervention only to be ignored.

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Tweet made to Uganda Police Force

Anticipating a roadblock intervention, my hopes dwindled when the driver casually moved out of the vehicle, greeted, and seemingly ‘saw off’ the police officer. Passengers whispered about money changing hands, leaving me frustrated with the difficulty of capturing evidence due to the deliberately obscured windows.

Vehicle designs are customized, deliberately limiting passengers’ ability to take pictures since windows are tinted and opaque stickers glued to obstruct any view outside.Despite police warnings against tinting, overloading, and speeding, the Masaka-Kyotera Road lacked signals or speed limits, exacerbating the problem. The sole roadblock seemed ineffective, fostering lawbreaking rather than deterring it.

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Passengers Squeezed in the taxi including children

This journey epitomizes broader challenges within the transport sector. While authorities are cognizant of the issues, influence from road users hampers effective action. Passengers, fearing abandonment, comply with the flawed system. To enhance road safety, there’s an urgent need for swift security responses to whistleblowers, ensuring the apprehension of errant drivers and conductors. Rigorous training for the police is essential to uphold standards, even if it causes inconvenience to road users. The transport sector requires a comprehensive overhaul for a safer and more accountable system.

@IvanKaahwa via X

#IvanKaahwaReports

kaahwaivan@gmail.com

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