Transport ministry seeks Shs21 billion for road safety

The State Minister for Works, Hon. Francis Musa Ecweru, has said that his ministry requires an additional funding of Shs21.5 billion towards implementation of road safety programmes and activities.

Ecweru was presenting a statement on the status of the road safety situation in Uganda during plenary sitting on Thursday, 21 July 2022.

He said that the additional funding will go towards strengthening of road safety management and regulation of public transport and stepping up road safety education and awareness, as well as implementation of the National Road Safety Plan.

According to Ecweru, currently, approximately Shs600 million is appropriated for road safety activities, and this is further affected by budget cuts.

“Whenever there are budget cuts, some of this allocation which is not spent on infrastructure is reduced since it is considered as a consumptive expenditure,” Ecweru said.

He noted that road safety financing is still a major challenge and yet there is a growing need for appropriation of more resources on road safety.

“I am aware of the so many competing demands for funding, particularly in the road sub-sector especially for paving of the road network,” Ecweru said.

The minister said that government is also engaging the service provider for mandatory motor vehicle inspection services, on resumption of services which were halted after a long spell of no enforcement compliance.

“The Highway Code is being reviewed and updated by the ministry. The code provides information, advice, guidance and mandatory rules for road users with the objective of promoting safety,” Ecweru added.

He also said that the Ministry of Works and Transport has prepared a National Road Safety Action Plan aimed at reducing the number of road traffic deaths and injuries by 25 per cent in 2026.

“The road traffic crashes are responsible for an average of 10 deaths per day. It is ironical that road crashes affect the most productive age group. These crashes could be avoided,” he said.

He blamed a huge number of crashes to over speeding, reckless driving, careless pedestrians and driving under the influence of alcohol, among others.

Kilak South County MP, Hon. Gilbert Olanya, however, said that the minister’s statement fell short of providing immediate interventions.

“When you look at most of the roads, for example Gulu Highway, there are potholes in the middle of the road and these cause accidents. We need immediate intervention to control road accidents,” said Olanya.

Hon. Joyce Acan (NRM, Persons with Disabilities) blamed the increasing road carnage on the narrow roads, wondering why government allows construction of such roads.

“Newly constructed roads are very narrow and constructed under government supervision, most of the roads are constructed leaving the pavement very big and narrowing the roads. The minister has not told us how they allow that to happen,” said Acan.

Nakawa Division West MP, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi advised government to consistently enforce traffic rules and regulations for improved road safety.

“Government should deal with inconsistency, once we are not consistent with certain things, people get used. Government executed seatbelts for a certain period and abandoned it, same goes for speed governors. We need to get to that place where people know that we are serious about certain things,” Ssenyonyi said. 

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, guided that the debate on road safety is broad, and referred it to the Committee of Physical Infrastructure.

He also advised the Prime Minister to convene a meeting with the Ministry of Works and that of Internal Affairs.

“You can have regulations but you do not have the powers to enforce directly, you need another agency. We are lacking integration on implementation,” said Tayebwa.