Rev. Evatt Mugarura, the founder of AYLDH, highlighted the dangers faced by children riding on the fuel tanks of Boda bodas, stating that they become vulnerable and act as a shield for the rider. Even minor collisions or encounters with obstacles can result in the child being the first to fall off.
Road safety activists and experts after launching child shield campaign
Road safety experts and activists, including
representatives from Hope for Victims of Traffic Accidents (HOVITA), United
Nations Association Uganda (UNAU), Zembo Motors, and Africa Youth Leadership
Development and Health (AYLDH), have cautioned parents against transporting
their children on motorcycle fuel tanks, stressing that it poses significant
risks to their lives.
Rev. Evatt Mugarura, the founder of AYLDH, highlighted the
dangers faced by children riding on the fuel tanks of Boda bodas, stating that
they become vulnerable and act as a shield for the rider. Even minor collisions
or encounters with obstacles can result in the child being the first to fall
Statistics indicate that Uganda loses an average of 631 children
in road crashes annually, with nearly 2,000 sustaining life-threatening
injuries. Experts believe that these tragic incidents can be reduced by
avoiding risky behaviors such as carrying children on fuel tanks and
“Some of the risks for road crashes children
are exposed to include sitting them on fuel tanks which limit the flexible
movement of cyclists as well as risking them to crash head-on. Stop overloading
whereby one loads over 4 children on one motorbike, in addition to sitting
them alone without an elder to support them as they are sited,” Mugarura said.
The shield campaign, launched in Kampala Tuesday, aims to
discourage the practice of loading multiple children on a single motorcycle,
which forces riders to place children on fuel tanks. Sylvester Ndagize, a
parent and Boda boda rider at the Makindye Luwaffu stage, highlighted financial
difficulties as a reason some parents insist on placing three or more children
on a single motorcycle.
"I have children who are in school but I
make sure I don't load all of them on my motorcycle. But parents say they don't
have money and ask us to put four children on one motorcycle. Then, you're
forced to carry one in front, which is not good," Ndagize said.
Police records over the past five years revealed that 3,155
children under 18 died in road crashes, with 5,949 sustaining injuries. Robert
Byamukama, an administrator at Boda Industry Uganda, stressed that the campaign
targets both riders and passengers.
Mary Namata, an IT graduate and mother of three, acknowledged
hiring an experienced motorcyclist to transport her children to a nearby
school, emphasizing the importance of ensuring their safety.
"Only two of my three children are in
school. But we use one motorcycle to transport them to school alongside one of
my neighbors. The rider we use is experienced and we told him to ensure our
children are taken or returned safely. We even ask children to tell us about
his conduct on the road," Namata said.
Jackie Okao, the in-country coordinator of the Global Health
Advocacy Initiative, highlighted health risks associated with exposing children
to cold temperatures and emissions from fuel tanks while seated on motorcycles.
Anthony Kimuli from Traffic Safety Awareness Organisation Uganda
Limited (TRASAO) emphasized the initiative to train cyclists on road safety and
the legal aspect that restricts children under 12 from riding motorcycles alone
without an elder's support.
"As adults, it's our responsibility to
protect innocent children from any practices that jeopardize their
safety," emphasized Kamuli.
Senior Staff Reporter
Mr Joseph Kato graduated with a Master's Degree of Art in Journalism & Communication on February 02, 2024 at Makerere University. He holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Journalism and Media Studies which he attained in 2023 at Oslo Metropolitan University in Norway.
Mr Kato holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication from Kampala International University. The Master's Degree studies and a decade of journalism practice have enabled Mr Kato to be one of the reliable researchers in areas of conflict, r