It is a tale as old as time. Time is an exaggeration, but that is what we lose when the rain falls and heavy traffic jam hits the city. Wednesday morning came with a downpour that caused traffic congestion.
Traffic jams are a regular inconvenience for people commuting to the city, especially from Wakiso and Mukono districts.
In March, this newspaper explored the different measures being put in place to address traffic jam in the city. Some of the measures included installing traffic lights at major junctions.
Indeed, several traffic lights have been installed, making traffic move smoothly, especially during off-peak hours.
Peak hours are another story, however. Even with the signalled junctions, traffic congestion remains a menace during peak hours. Woe unto you if you are at the Jinja Road traffic lights on a Friday evening.
The lights may be on but you will be at the mercy of the traffic police officers and their walkie-talkies. This goes on to show that the traffic lights on their own are not going to solve this problem.
Which brings us to the other proposed measure – widening roads and constructing flyovers. Some roads like Jinja Road and Makerere Hill Road have been widened and they do look beautiful.
This beauty, however, fades when you are stuck in traffic jam. For the people in the Najjera-Kiwatule area, for instance, a quick solution beyond any planned construction of flyovers and road widening is needed.
Beyond the inconvenience traffic jam brings, there is cost to the time spent stalled on the road. Take a person who commutes to the city using a public taxi from Najjeera at Shs2,000.
If the said person gets stuck in traffic jam for more than two hours, only making it to Ntinda, they are likely to resort to using a boda boda if they are running late.
If their destination is on the other side of town, they will spend at least Shs7,000 on the boda boda fare. The taxi conductor will also charge them Shs1,000 for the journey from Najjeera to Ntinda. In the end that person has spent Shs10,000 where they had planned to spend at least Shs3,500. This does not begin to capture the cost of time spent in the traffic jam or the cost of air pollution from the car fumes.
The cry against traffic jam has been a long, loud one that needs to be addressed.
Simple measures such as taking stringent measures against people who break traffic laws and create unnecessary traffic jam have shown gains in the past. These need to be regularly enforced as we wait on the more ambitious measures.