My Daddy’s Hugs Ended in a Bodaboda Crash

Photo Courtesy of road crash

This Sunday, Road Safety Coalition Uganda (ROSACU) members and other stakeholders of road safety will join the world in mourning for more than 1.3 million people killed in road crashes every year by marching to Kampala’s Old Taxi Park. The 1.3 million people number might sound dismal when compared to the now 8 billion people living on planet earth.

But when this number is divided by the 365 days in a year, it means every 24 hours 3,562 people are reduced to graves. If you divide the daily deaths into 24 hours that make a day, it means 148 people die in road crashes every hour.

In case you choose to again divide the number of 148 people killed in road crashes every hour by the 60 minutes that make an hour, you will realise that six people lose their life every 60 seconds (read I minute).

So, just imagine if your home collects six bodies of people killed in road crashes every minute, how long would it take for it to fill to the bream? I know when you imagine it, you even develop Goosebumps, right? But that is the reality.

If you are wondering how many Ugandans are part of the six people killed worldwide in road crashes every minute, or how many Ugandans are part of the 3,562 people becoming graves each day, let me bring you up to speed.

The Uganda traffic police report of 2021 presented by the Acting director of traffic police, Lawrence Niwabiine, indicates 4,159 people died in road carnages. This translates into 11 people dying on Ugandan roads every day. However, there is one category of transport used on Ugandan roads that is contributing to almost 70 percent of road deaths and that is the Bodaboda transport.

Out of the 4,159 deaths that happened on Ugandan roads last year, 1390 were Bodaboda riders while 512 were passengers on motorcycles. But it should be remembered that even the biggest number of the 1,384 pedestrians killed last year on Ugandan roads, the majority were victims of hit-and-run Bodabodas. This means Bodaboda riders perhaps contribute more than 70 percent of road deaths and injuries.

Road crash records from January to September this year as presented by traffic police spokesperson, Faridah Nampiima, show 1,021 Bodaboda riders, and their 401 passengers perished within that period. This means that 158 people die as a result of Bodaboda crashes every month. If you want to comprehend this impact, just imagine 158 coffins being piled in your courtyard every month or five graves being dug in your compound every day. I am sure it would be frightening and a nightmare.

I am sure this article has bored you with so many figures, but you should just accept that it is the reality on the Ugandan roads. As I took time to break down these numbers for you, my mind reflected on the five, 10, or more children whose fathers and mothers are part of the five people killed in Bodaboda crashes every day.

My mind quickly runs to my boys who run to hug me every time I go back home even when I am empty-handed. My presence in their life as their father gives them the smile, the joy, and perhaps the thinking that I am powerful enough to protect them against a lion. Then, I can’t help to imagine the children of the five people dying in Bodaboda crashes every day missing the hugs from their mothers and fathers. I imagine that the spirits of the deceased missing their children and perhaps attempt to caution them against jumping in chairs or touching broken bottles, but all that is no longer possible. I see tears of the children whose daddies and ma’ams have die in Bodaboda crashes every day saying “My Daddy’s/ma’am’s hugs ended in Bodaboda crash.” Let us all walk the talk. Let us be responsible drivers and riders. Let us be careful pedestrians and above all, let us all act to make roads safer for all of us.

Thoughts of Joseph Kato, an investigative journalist, researcher, communication consultant, and media advisor for Hope for Victims of Traffic Accidents (HOVITA).

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