Impacting on traffic jam and pollution in Uganda's capital, Kampala.

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    Kampala capital city was designed to cope with about 45,000 vehicles and automobiles, yet those that enter the city daily are over 2,000,000 now, including taxis, private vehicles, and "boda bodas", according to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). This leaves the city congested, making people lose many working hours in traffic. But also costs lives of the people and damages the environment inform of pollution.

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    Résumé: La capitale de Kampala a été conçue pour faire face à environ 45,000 véhicules et automobiles, mais ceux qui pénètrent quotidiennement dans la ville sont plus de 2,000,000, y compris les taxis, les véhicules privés et les "boda bodas" selon Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) . Cela laisse la ville congestionnée, ce qui fait que les gens perdent beaucoup d'heures de travail dans la circulation. Mais cela coûte aussi la vie des gens et endommage l'environnement informe de la pollution.


    Traffic Scenario in Kampala, Uganda.

    Mr. David Sebutinde, 43, is a resident of Bweyogerere, Wakiso District who runs an automobile spare parts shop along Luwum Street in Kampala.

    On a weekday, he sets off from home at 6am, and he reaches his work place at 8am (earliest). “I sometimes take longer depending on how heavy the traffic jam on Jinja Road is,” he says. He should ideally take about 30 minutes from home to his work place but he spends about 2 hours on the road. In the evening, usually leaving work at 7:00pm and only getting home almost at 10:00pm. Mr. Sebutinde explained that such heavy congestion in the city reduces people’s working hours hence loss of government revenue. He added that government must take action immediately.


    This stresses almost everyone everyday whenever they think of either leaving home or work. This ordeal is shared by majority of people who either use their own cars or public means to go for work in the city. For those who use Jinja road, the stretch between Kyambogo and Spear Motors (about 1.3m) is a motorist’s nightmare, with holdups sometimes stretching to 40 minutes to an hour! It’s against this background that motorists have tasked government to urgently address Kampala’s traffic jam.


    The cause of traffic jam

    Mr. Waiswa Mubiru, a motorist who routinely rides along the city routes, attributes the heavy traffic on the state of Kampala’s roads which he says are poor. He says, “All these roads you see in Kampala are very narrow and that’s why there is always heavy traffic because motorists have to compete for the available little space. That’s why you see many of them disrespecting traffic rules. Some of the roads have potholes hence congestion.” According to statistics from Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), only 500km out of Kampala’s 2,100km road network is tarmacked and paved.

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    What’s happening elsewhere in East Africa?

    According to a report published in Kenya’s Daily, in 2017 Kenya introduced the Nairobi Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) project which sees traffic control technologies such as intelligent traffic lights, road markings and signage to reduce traffic jam. This was in addition to the wide roads, a number of flyovers and the stringent traffic rules. However, despite the presence of traffic law, enforcement is still wanting in the country.


    What is being done about the traffic jam issue in Kampala, Uganda?

    African Mobilities Observatory - AMO understands that Kampala Capital City Authority targets to signal at least 43 junctions in the city with an aim of reducing congestion hence improved urban mobility. The traffic lights, just like the current roads project, are being funded by World Bank and implemented by Kampala Capital City Authority. The five-year project will cost $183m.


    In September 2015, JICA signed a loan agreement with the government of Uganda for $200m for the construction of the Kampala Flyover construction and road upgrading project. The project is aimed at contributing to the reduction of traffic congestion in Kampala and it involves construction of flyovers at Kitgum House and Clock Tower junctions, widening of Mukwano Road, construction of an underpass junction at Nsambya junction, improving other associated junctions within the project area as well as traffic safety improvement at Shoprite and clock Tower.


    Mr Moses Atwine, the Kampala Capital City Authority director of Physical Planning said that much as the solution to the recurring problem is to widen the roads, the law has to be implemented. He said: “We have most of the points of traffic congestion caused by indiscipline but the problem is with implementing the law. Uganda is a country where observing the law is optional. We are in advanced stages of talks with the government to see that the proposed budget to widen the roads is realized.”


    Mr Peter Kaujju, the Kampala Capital City Authority director of public and corporate Affairs acknowledged the public’s uproar over the heavy congestion but he attributed it to indiscipline motorists whom he said, aren’t patient hence they end up causing confusion on roads. He said: “For instance, we have signaled over 20 junctions in the city and these traffic lights have reduced traffic jam. However, people have to appreciate how these lights work and also obey other traffic rules.” To enforce compliance with the traffic rules, Mr Kaujju revealed that Kampala Capital City Authority is currently working with the traffic police to weed out all defiant motorists, reducing congestion.


    According to reliable sources,  Kampala Capital City Authority is also in final preparations of shipping in buses which will work as public means of transport hence reducing the number of taxis, private vehicle, and boda bodas. He further revealed that plans are underway to relocate all bus terminals to the periphery areas to reduce congestion and pollution in Kampala capital.


    But Dr Amin Tamale Kiggundu, a senior lecturer of urban planning at Makerere University, says the major cause of Kampala’s traffic jam is the number of private car and other means of transport like taxis which, he says, they consume a lot of space yet they accommodate very few people.


    He faults government on failing to create other satellite cities outside Kampala which people can go to for either shopping or work instead of flocking the city center. He said: “Government must invest in public transport like buses because they accommodate many people compared to taxis. When buses are used, there is orderliness in the city because they are regulated hence reducing traffic on the roads.”


    He refers to capital cities like Nairobi and Kigali where he says they have managed to manage traffic jam by introducing stringent regulations for road users. He said: “The state of our roads in Kampala is appalling, but what authorities ought to do is construct roads with wider lanes, and also consider upgrading the access roads which can be used as short cuts.”


    To decongest the city, Dr. Amin also proposes that all taxi parks and bus terminals must be relocated to the periphery areas to reduce the traffic gridlock they cause. For instance, Kampala is grappling with at least 30 illegal bus terminals and multiple illegal taxi stages, making most of the city roads impassable.


    In Conclusion, the solution is to create new strategies like regulating the flow of cars in the city center, making some of the roads dual carriage and widening the roads, among others. We can reorganize this city if the responsible authorities take it upon themselves to advance some strategic areas like levying taxes on the cars entering the city. For instance, Rwanda introduced new tough rules against breaking traffic rules where drivers caught over speeding are compelled to pay heavy fines.





    By Joseph Semuju

    Community Manager - AMO

    African Mobilities Observatory - AMO, MICHELIN.


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