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Drivers Excited Over New Roads To Blame For Accidents – Gov’t

Government has blamed the increasing cases of road accidents on drivers who tend to excited while driving on newly built roads.

In a statement to Parliament On ‘Measures To Address Road Carnage’,  Aggrey Henry Bagiire, the Minister of State for Works and Transport (Also Holding the Portfolio for Minister of Works and Transport) announced a number of measures to curb the increasing road accidents.

The statement comes on the back of the Friday accident where a Gaaga bus traveling from Lira to Kampala along the Kampala-Gulu Highway rammed into the right side tyre of a tractor that was being driven without lights, plucking off one of its tyres.

The bus driver lost control, overturning the bus and latter collided with an oncoming trailer carrying crates of beer. The accident has so far claimed a total of 23 lives and over a dozen were seriously injured.

“… there has been a general trend of increase in accident cases on newly upgraded or rehabilitated roads mainly due to increased speeds by motorists,” the Minister said.

He added: “We have seen this happen on Kampala – Masaka road. The spate of accidents took place after the accident at Kampiriingisa on 2nd May 2015 that claimed 21 lives; which prompted my Ministry in partnership with the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and the Uganda Police Force (UPF) to set-up “OPERATION FIKA SALAAMA”.”

He noted that the operation was a short-term solution that stepped up enforcement of the road safety measures along this road and that the Uganda Police has replicated this operation on other major highways.

“However, the trend of accidents has not decreased; therefore there is a need to put in place measures to sustainably address the road carnage,” he said.

He revealed that Amendment of the Traffic and Road Safety Act, Cap.351 is in offing.  In 2017, Cabinet approved drafting Principles for the amendment of the Act.

“Next month, I will be presenting to Cabinet the Draft Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2018 for consideration. The Bill seeks to strength road safety management in the Country, streamline and better regulate public transport in the country, strengthen enforcement, among others,” he said.

Amendment of the Roads Act and Access to Roads Act is also in offing.

Cabinet approved the Roads Bill 2017, which is now ready for gazzetting and subsequent submission to Parliament.

The Roads Bill 2017 seeks among others to address several road safety improvement infrastructural interventions.

He noted that his ministry also plans Road Safety Financing Strategy.

“One of the main challenges facing the Ministry is sustainable funding of road safety programs. We developed a Road Safety Financing Strategy so that part of the Non-Tax Revenue generated by the Ministry is retained as Appropriation in Aid to support road safety activities,” he said.

The ministry also plans Automated Licensing System at the Transport Licensing Board.

“We plan to interface the system with the Uganda Police. The system will allow us to better regulate and account for all Transport Operators,” he said, adding that a Mandatory Motor Vehicle Inspections will also play a big role in reducing road carnage although enforcement for compliance is still at halt awaiting a Parliamentary decision.

In the short run, the government plans installation of Speed limiters in Commercial Vehicles.

“We propose to introduce speed limiters that come with GPS trackers and recorders, over speeding alerts and can notify the regulator of any tampering attempts to all Commercial vehicles,” the Minister said, adding that starting Financial Year 2018/19, the Ministry will commence licensing of goods vehicles.

“The licensing process will require vehicles to fulfill certain regulatory requirements including, inspection for roadworthiness,” he said, adding that the Ministry will roll out the accreditations of drivers to include drivers of goods vehicles and all categories of omnibuses.

Currently, the Ministry accredits all drivers of high capacity buses.

The Accreditation exercise involves vetting of drivers’ by reviewing their accident history, criminal record and eye tests among others.

Introduction of a Graduated Driving License

“We intend to introduce a Graduated Driving Licence that will mandate drivers of commercial vehicles to undergo refresher course and training. This is provided for in the proposed amendment to the Traffic and Road Safety Act,” Bagiire said, adding that the Ministry plans to establish an Automated Driver Test Centre.

“The system will minimize human bias and allow learner drivers to undergo a rigorous testing to confirm their competences to drive before issuance of the driving permit,” he said, adding that government will also intensify Road Safety sensitization awareness and strengthening of the coordination role of road safety activities by the Ministry.

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