Uganders are annoyingly fatalistic. But although we are angry, we are not angry. So we don’t know how bad it feels to be annoyed when we annoy others with our inability to get angry. Being fatalistic, we accept every condition.
For example, we accept that you expect to die as soon as you hit the streets. Although the street carnage in Uganda is alarming, we grin in embarrassment as another accident claims several people. Ugandans actually make sick jokes about fatal traffic accidents and strange suggestions to stop the killings on the road.
Recent mishaps involving a bus company have prompted many Ugandans to suggest that management launch a Boda Finds Boda cyclist who reportedly cursed her and placates him. The company’s bus allegedly knocked over a Boda Boda and caused some damage to his machine.
The driver allegedly asked for compensation and was ignored, and the next day the driver who hit him crashed with the Bus collapsed, killing two dozen people, including himself. The same company suffered another crash and the bush burst into flames, and suffered another crash a few days later.
Some government officials posed the operation of the company for a few days due to investigation. The buses started running again and people couldn’t be heard asking for the investigation report, but everyone was talking about the need to see the Boda Boda guy – whose juju was said to be working – and pay him.
< p>Last week we celebrated Uganda Martyrs Week. This week, from May 29 to June 4, 84 Ugandans died in road accidents and another 339 were hospitalized in poor condition, according to the spokeswoman for the Uganda Police Department for Traffic and Road Safety. People yawned as she read the stats on camera.
What is 84 dead in a week, especially in a week of victims in memory of the martyrs burned by order of the king and our country made famous? They caused the first papal visit to Africa and a total of three popes have come to Uganda to honor these martyrs.
So what is 84 traffic deaths in one week, which is only 12 deaths per day? That’s even below our average of nearly 13 deaths a day on Ugandan roads. At the moment, our popular solution is to appease whoever casts a spell on us. We also tried legal solutions – imposing large fines. We celebrated a statistic of billions in traffic express fines. Then we come back to more deaths by sharing “something small” with traffic officers and continuing to drive badly, sometimes under the influence.
How do we deal with traffic jams? We do not organize road use and do not assign lanes. In fact, we designate an entire lane for parking in many streets of Kampala for some entrepreneurs to collect their money. Then we’ll allow anyone who can put a siren on their car to zigzag through the lanes and chase everyone off the road.
The Minister of Transport, who happens to be an army general, tried to focus on that Appeal law to stop the illegal sirens and lead cars, but his fellow VIPs just laughed at him (VIP number is not fixed, because whoever can fix a siren with or without a lead car becomes a VIP).
< p>But we don’t get it annoyed, instead we grin in embarrassment as the leading cars chase us into the ditches.
Once in a while the siren-led VIPs know that a schoolchild has died in order to contribute to our Provide road carnage statistics.< /p>
But not everyone is a fatalist who thinks road deaths are inevitable. Finally, the government’s own scientists at the Ministry of Technology have decided to address the condition of vehicles – a major cause of road accidents – by building a world-class vehicle testing center in Jinja, where buses will undergo the equivalent of a human CT scan.
So far is what is considered a test in Uganda, a physical driver who gets into a car, revs it up, drives off at insane speeds and suddenly brakes. If it stops, it’s in good condition. If time permits, check the windshield wipers and horn.
Could these be the tests the company’s fleet was put through, which was left out for a few days? Would you blame the gossip for buying the Boda Boda driver’s witch story?
When the Jinja High-Tech Test Center is completed later this year, we hope that the buses, which carry around 100 people each, are actually checked there.
Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. Email: [emailprotected]