• Authored By: Philemon Okillong
24 Jan 2024

Parliamentary Committee on Health reveals that the government spends approximately UGX 315.72 billion annually on provision of health care services to road traffic victims across all the regional referral hospitals in the country.

 

The short video clips captured via Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) video surveillance often shared by Uganda Police Force (UPF) on crashes on our roads bring home the crisis eating away this country’s future. Most of the clips are hard to watch as they show road traffic victims in their last moments.

Yet, these serve as a poignant reminder of the lives tragically lost and the countless individuals who have been affected by road traffic accidents.

Uganda has a traffic fatalities crisis, affecting everyone: pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and motorists. Pedestrians are the mostly likely to die in a crash than any other group, Police figures show. As the numbers continue to climb, so does the urgency to address this growing concern for citizens. These accidents leave in their wake a trail of grief, injury, and shattered communities.

UPF annual crime reports reveal that in the past five (5) years alone, the total number of road traffic crashes increased by 60 percent from 12,805 crashes in 2018 to 20,394 crashes in 2022. Fatal crashes increased by 22.1 percent in the same period. The country also experienced a 77 percent increase in serious cases and a 62.1 percent surge in minor crashes during the same period.

In 2022 alone, many of those killed were motorcyclists and pedestrians. This alarming increase in accidents has not only placed a tremendous burden on the healthcare system but also resulted in the loss of countless lives and livelihoods.

These statistics underscore the urgent need for intervention and a comprehensive approach to road safety. A study commissioned by the Parliamentary Committee on Health in 2022 to investigate the cost of traffic accidents in Uganda revealed that the root causes of the skyrocketing traffic accidents include reckless driving behaviours (78 percent), ‘careless’ pedestrians (6 percent), driving motor vehicles in Dangerous Mechanical Conditions – DMCs (4.47 percent), over speeding (2.78 percent), and driving under the influence of alcohol (0.88 percent), among other causes.

Traffic accidents have had a significant impact on people’s lives, families, and the national economy. The World Health Organization estimates that road traffic accidents in Uganda cost the country 5 percent of its gross domestic product annually. This economic burden is exacerbated by the expense of medical care, lost production, and property damage. The Parliamentary Committee on Health further reveal that the government spends approximately UGX 315.72 billion annually on provision of health care services to road traffic victims across all the regional referral hospitals in the country.

The Ugandan government has recognized the severity of the issue and has been taking strides to address it. Some of the measures include implementing and strengthening road safety policies and regulations, undertaking road safety public awareness campaigns, initiating infrastructure improvement projects, and increasing law enforcement efforts.

Simultaneously, local communities, non-governmental organizations, and passionate individuals are actively engaged in promoting road safety campaigns and providing support to accident victims. However, despite all these efforts, Uganda continues to grapple with the rising cases of road traffic accidents and fatalities.

There is an urgent need to adopt a multifaceted approach hinged on collective responsibility to encourage responsible driving, road safety education and awareness, and a more comprehensive community involvement. Only through such collective efforts can we hope to curb the rising tide of road traffic accidents, prevent further loss of lives, and work towards a safer and more responsible road culture for Uganda.

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