Individual awareness best tool to curb accidents in Uganda

May the Souls of those who perished in Lake Victoria accident rest in peace and may the Almighty God comfort the bereaved families.

Is there any week that passes without news of an accident or loss of lives in our little Pearl of Africa? I do not have the statistics but I think we are losing more lives in accidents than the diseases we fear most. It is unfortunate that nearly all causes of these accidents are avoidable. What then should we do?

The government can implement the following:

  1. Construct and maintain good roads, railway lines, airports and water docking ports;
  2. Register all transport companies and individuals;
  3. Register all vessels used (vehicles, boats, air crafts, trains, etc.);
  4. Inspect regularly the condition of the transport vessels;
  5. Enforce mandatory use of seat belts and life jackets;
  6. Enforce law against dangerous loading;
  7. Enforce a directive to have all passengers searched (for dangerous possessions) before boarding to ensure the safety of everyone;
  8. Restrict time of movement (e.g. no passengers moving in the waters at night); and,
  9. De register any operator who violates the above among other measures.

Whereas government can do the above, I am convinced that achieving 100% safety maybe hard due to reasons such as inadequate human resource to man each vessel 24/7. What then can we do as citizens to prevent accidents in our country? I think the following free interventions could help us;

  1. Avoid drunk driving, refuse to board vessels of drunk drivers and report any drunk drivers to Police;
  2. Do not be afraid to order a driver to reduce speed if he/she is over speeding. If they refuse, inform the police besides requesting to alight off the vehicle. This way you will be safe and would have helped the police in enforcement of the law;
  3. If the vessel owner wants to overload, politely ask them not to do so, tell other passengers the dangers of overloading, get off the vessel if they insist and report to police;
  4. Most of us are not engineers but we can all do a basic assessment of the condition of the vessel (vehicle or boat) for worthiness to carry passengers. You can check the tyre condition, lighting (for indication of direction and night driving) and be on the lookout for any weird noise produced by the vessel. It could be a sign of worn out rotating parts;
  5. When in the vehicle or plane, use the seat belt at all times; wear your life jacket at all times in boats and know the location of the life vests in large water vessels;
  6. Report any improper behavior exhibited by your neighbors while onboard, to the vessel operators;
  7. Plan your journeys to avoid rushing (which results into over speeding). A well planned trip is usually accompanied by a relaxed drive;
  8. Avoid moving at night as much as you can as there is reduced visibility and is when everybody (trained or not, sober or drunk) and every kind of transport vessel (good or in a Dangerous Mechanical Condition) is on the road; and,
  9. Always let your family and friends be on the know of your whereabouts and demand to be registered when using water transport before embarking on your journey, this helps the police in case of any eventuality to ascertain the number of people aboard and their names plus contact details for their next of kin.