Road carnage: Police blames government

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By Stephen Otage

Kampala- The Traffic Police has revealed that most of the activities it is currently carrying out to ensure road safety in the country, do not fall within its mandate.

In an interview yesterday, Dr Stephen Kasiima, police’s director of road traffic and safety, said the management of road safety in the country is supposed to be coordinated by a well-resourced government agency, which supervises all actors in the road sector, including the police.

“The Constitution defines our scope of work: To prevent and detect crime traffic, investigate and prosecute offenders, and our investigations are limited to the cause of the accident and identifying the blameworthy party,” he said.

He explained that activities such as auditing accidents, towing accident vehicles and transporting the dead or the injured to hospital, is not their mandate but they are filling the vacuum of an absent institution headed by the Ministry of Works and Transport.

“We end up dumping victims on our pickups, [and] sometimes they die because of over bleeding or infections as they are transported to hospitals because we are not trained to handle accident victims,” he added.

He explained that all East African countries have such institutions equivalent to the dormant Uganda National Road Safety Council. They are properly funded and resourced with professionals such as economists, lawyers, traffic experts. They have enforcement departments that evict encroachers on road reserves, carry out road safety awareness, educate, research and collect data on road traffic crashes.

Dr Kasiima’s comments follow accusations on Friday by the National Road Safety Council, which accused police of incompetence and failure to bring to an end road carnage in the country.

While addressing engineers during their monthly meeting last Friday, Mr Ronald Amanyire, the National Road Safety Council secretary, said the council lacks faith in the statistics police releases regarding traffic accidents in the country because they lack skills to audit accidents, which they always attribute to careless driving.

Asked to defend his department, Dr Kasiima also doubted the agency’s ability to audit accidents, citing meagre resources at their disposal.
Mr Amanyire said since its inception in 1998, government has never paid serious attention to the council, which was created by an Act of Parliament to ensure safety of Ugandans on the roads, the vehicles they use are in sound mechanical condition.

Functions

The National Road Safety Council is mandated to research into causes of accidents, promote and use statistical research as to the number, type and costs of traffic accidents, diagnose causes of accidents and suggest counter measures to combat them, identify accident hazards, devise and suggest countermeasures to promote action, make proposals to amend traffic and road safety legislation, educate the public about safe road usage, among others.
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