y Prisca Wanyenya
The Ministry of Works and Transport is mooting a plan to reduce the speed limit within urban areas from the current 50KM/H to 30KM/H.
The revelation was made by James Katunguka, a Senior Road and Safety Officer at the Ministry of Works and Transport during a training of journalists at African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) in Kampala recently.
Katunguka said that the decision followed the Stockholm Declaration during the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety: Achieving Global Goals 2030 that was held in Sweden in February 2020 where the United Nations members agreed to reduce the speed limit.
In this declaration, nations agreed to focus on speed management, including the strengthening of law enforcement to prevent speeding and mandate a maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix in a frequent and planned manner, except where strong evidence exists that higher speeds are safe, to reduce speed to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries.
Katunguka said that although the speed limit wasn’t included in the Traffic and Road Safety Amendment Act 2020, since the bill was passed into law in January 2020, before the conference, the new changes will be included in the regulations being discussed to operationalise the Traffic and Road Safety Amendment Act 2020.
He said: “That is when the declaration was made in that meeting at that international level and WHO recommended the speed limit in built up areas and other trading centers to be reduced from 50KPH to 30KPH. And this amended Act was made earlier than the declaration so we couldn’t capture it in the amendment Act.”
Sam Bambanza, Executive Director of Hope for Victims of Traffic Accidents, a civil society group, welcomed the development and called for the regulations to specifically look at schools and cater for the needs of these vulnerable students, who are in most cases rammed into by speeding motorists.
He said: “Research shows that if someone is hit at 30PHR they are some chances of survival and children are very vulnerable because they can’t make their own decisions, so we are coming in to support them so that this can be included in the speed limit.” Charles Bukuwa, working with the Parliament of Uganda welcomed the proposal to reduce the speed limit, saying it will go a long way towards reducing road crashes because it has become a common sightseeing boda boda riders zooming both on left and right and they are bashed by drivers of big or small vehicles. Edward Wambi, taxi driver plying the Jinja Iganga route when asked about the proposal to reduce the speed limit, welcomed the changes made in cities but he said, the current 50Kph in trading centers needs to be maintained. “In trading centers let them leave it at 50Kph, in town it is okay, let them reduce it to 30Kph because you can’t drive at 50Kph,” said Wambi.