Figures from the Traffic Police Directorate show that 3,155 children were knocked dead on Ugandan roads between 2018 and 2022.
Road safety experts led by Sam Bambanza the director of Hope for Victims of Traffic Accidents (HOVITA) and Dr Emmerentian Mbabazi from World Resources Institute (WRI) used the statistics to show officials from the ministries of Education, Gender, and Transport the urgent need to protect school children.
Bambanza said the children are being hit to death by speeding motorcyclists and vehicles in school zones because there are not enough signboards to show drivers that they need to slow down in school areas.
Statistics show that 670 children were knocked dead in 2018, 607 died in 2019, 628 were knocked dead in 2020, 600 perished on the road in 2021 and 650 children lost their lives in road crashes in 2022.
“When you add these children’s deaths in these five years you get 3,155 children’s graves. It also means that as a country we have been burying 631 children killed in road crashes every year and it also means we are losing two children every day. We need to protect these children by establishing safe school zones,” Bambanza said.
Dr Mbabazi and Bambanza said protecting children doesn’t require a lot but policies that enforce a 30km/h speed in all school zones and built-up areas. Dr Mbabazi added that policies must clearly state what each school must have in order to protect the children and these policies should include road and building construction designs.
Jonathan Edward Tibalira, an officer from the Ministry of Gender, labor, and Social Development said there is a need for road safety inclusion in school curricula so that the children, teachers, administrators, and regulators know what road safety means.
James Katunguka a road safety officer at the Ministry of Works and Transport concurred with Bambanza and Dr Mbabazi that establishing safe school zones would reduce children’s road fatalities. He said the ministry has already drafted policies that are currently with the solicitor general and would later invite key stakeholders for their input.
Katunguka and Dr. Mbabazi said there is a need to enforce discipline on the roads because children are severely knocked even at demarcated crossings. The duo also called for regulation of school construction because many schools are too close to the road and this gives learn no chance to survive once a vehicle veers off the road.
This year, a number of students and pupils have been knocked dead outside school gates while others have been knocked dead inside classrooms. Katunguka and Dr. Mbabazi believe all this can be avoided by not only enforcing a 30km/h speed in school zones but also regulating where schools must be constructed.