On May 24th, a Gaagaa bus collided with a tractor and a trailer carrying crates of beer in Kiryandongo district. 23 passengers were killed and 15 injured in the tragic accident. Unfortunately, the number of deaths caused by road traffic accidents is on the rise in Africa. In fact, the continent currently has the worst death rate for road traffic accidents in the entire world — almost 250% more than Europe. The Gaagaa bus accident quickly prompted the government to implement new measures to help tackle this grave problem.
New measures for road safety
A recent cabinet meeting at the State House in Entebbe gave the Ministry of Works and Transport the green light to implement a number of new measures with the goal of reducing the impact of road traffic accidents across Uganda. Frank Tumwebaze, Minister for Information, gave a statement explaining that drivers of commercial vehicles — including buses, passenger service vehicles, and goods-transporting trucks — are now required to install Road Speed Limiters (RSL’s). These devices are designed to limit the speed of the vehicle to a set number by controlling the fuel feed to the engine.
Mandatory licensing and refresher courses
The cabinet also announced all goods vehicles are now subject to mandatory licensing; they must fulfill certain regulatory requirements including inspection for road worthiness. Moreover, the drivers of commercial vehicles will also be required to undergo refresher courses at government-run automated driver test centers. Drivers who pass will be issued a graduated driving license, as well as undergo further routine refresher courses, training, and tests. “This system is intended to minimize human bias and to allow learner drivers to undergo rigorous testing to confirm their competences to drive before issuance of driving permits,” Tumwebaze also revealed in his statement.
Improvements on the past
These new safety measures come after a string of other unsuccessful past measures taken by the government to prevent road traffic accidents. Over a decade ago, most notably, the Ministry of Works and Transport introduced mandatory speed governors. These were meant to limit the speed of commercial vehicles on the road to below 80 km per hour, however, they weren’t well-enforced. In 2008, the measure was relaxed completely.
Road accidents are a serious issue all over the continent. Traffic accidents now kill more people than malaria in many African countries, such as, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan. It’s hoped these new changes will go some way in reducing road carnage and bring these shocking statistics down.