Road accidents are projected to become the seventh leading cause of death in the world if there’s no sustained intervention, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Globally, about 1.3 million people die as a result of road accidents.
In Uganda, 10 of all the road accidents that occur on a daily basis are caused by boda bodas; these fatalities are projected to surpass the number of HIV/Aids deaths by 2030 if we don’t act swiftly as a country. Road accidents cost Uganda between 2 per cent and 3 per cent of the total GDP annually.
This is a direct result of lost productivity among riders and family members who have to dedicate resources and time to treat and care for victims of road accidents.
These statistics are mind-boggling! No life should ever be lost to road accidents given that fatalities can be prevented or scaled down significantly through behavioural change among drivers and riders. In Uganda, one of the leading causes of road accidents is misuse of roads by unprofessional riders and motorists.
A number of interventions such as the Red Card campaign and Kawunyemu have been undertaken by both the private sector and police respectively. As a result, motor accidents have been put in check and many lives saved. However, more can be done.
SafeBoda, a locally grown ride hailing app service, established in 2015, is available to any passenger who prefers to use boda boda to commute to and from work and other destinations. SafeBodas are well trained and follow road safety guidelines adding that much value to the passengers.
The company has achieved 100 per cent helmet use for all their SafeBoda riders and fronts this as one of the key guidelines for both the riders and passengers; especially when in transit. Wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death on the road by nearly 40 per cent and the risk of severe injury by more than 70 percent, according to WHO.
Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of a fatality among front seat passengers by 40 to 50 per cent and of rear seat passengers by between 25 and 75 per cent.
We, therefore, encourage all boda boda riders to wear helmets while on the road to protect life. Additionally, improving safety for passengers and riders has the potential to increase income opportunities for riders across the board.
Riders that join SafeBoda have the potential to increase their earnings by up to 50 per cent. To further consolidate the progress made on road safety in Uganda, on the September 13, the Director of Traffic and Road Safety, Uganda Police Force, Dr Stephen Kasiima, launched the SafeBoda Academy in Kyebando, a Kampala suburb.
This training facility will empower at least 1,000 boda boda riders every month, with the relevant traffic and road safety knowledge and skills, as well as excellent customer care skills.
We are confident that professionalising boda boda riders will reduce accidents on our roads, and improve traffic discipline by the riders. This is one less thing for families of SafeBodas to worry about. The rewards are saving lives, boosting the economy and job creation.
Ricky Thomson Rapa,