The Minister of Works and Transport, General Katumba Wamala (pictured) has ordered Traffic Police to reinstate the fika salama operation in which motorists caught violating traffic rules will be fined ahead of the festive season.
General Katumba gave the directive while launching the National Road Safety Week at Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) grounds in Kaymbogo-Kampala today, at a ceremony geared towards highlighting how road crashes have impacted on the lives and economy of Ugandans.
“I am launching Fika Salama extra. This business of “gamba nogu” must stop, everybody must conform. We can’t continue reporting these numbers as if it is fun, five numbers and we are reporting 3,500 people dying due to road crashes, we should see the number reduce. It shouldn’t be just Christmas time, it should be throughout the time,” Katumba said.
The Minister’s remarks were in response to the revelation by Phillip Acaye, Deputy Director Traffic Police who detailed the gruesome numbers of people Uganda loses in road crashes.
“Our statistics show that in the past five years, we have lost over 3,500 people to road crashes consistently. On top of that, 9000 come out with very serious injuries,” Acaye said.
Records from Police show that 18,235 people lost their lives in road crashes between 2016 to 2020, although public health experts argue that the number could be more because the figures captured by Police only include bodies picked at the scene of accidents and don’t include victims who pass on in health facilities.
Rashid Ssekindi, Secretary of Uganda Federation of Taxi Operators welcomed the pronouncement, saying it would help reduce incidences of crashes on upcountry routes, especially among drivers of short distances that want to take advantage of the high demand of transport.
“It helps to deter the short distance taxis to take on long routes. But most cases, those officers know the vehicles plying those routes and aren’t conversant with the route, so this deters these drivers from exploring these new routes during the festive season,” Ssekindi said.