Writer: Otim J Obunak Broken Windows 256
A car pool is an arrangement between two or more people to make a regular journey in a single car, typically with each person taking turns to drive the others. The last decade has seen the number of motor vehicle road users in Kampala grow exponentially leading to heavy traffic jam on major roads and highways leading into the city, especially during ”rush” hours.The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) estimates that 24,000 man hours (man hour or person hour is the amount of work performed by the average worker in one hour) a day are lost by commuters due to traffic jams. According to the World Bank, this is equivalent to a loss of USD800 million every year. According to the 2008 State of Environment Report by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the country loses Shs 500 million every day through excess fuel used to navigate traffic jams.
Carpooling is a cost-effective and environment-friendly remedy in the wake of Government efforts to combat Kampala’s increasingly notorious dilemma; the government of Uganda should evaluate its viability and applicability in the Ugandan context and consider other jurisdictions where this model has been tested.
To implement carpooling we have to look at how it has worked in the different countries that have this system going within and out of Africa, review why it has worked that way and how it could get incorporated into Uganda’ transportation system.
A carpooling culture can be developed in a particular workplace or one that a particular neighborhood would adopt. Besides that, in certain states in the USA carpooling lanes were created known as high occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV). HOV lanes may either be a single traffic lane within the main roadway with distinctive markings or a separate roadway with one or more traffic lanes either parallel to the general lanes or grade-separated, above or below the general lanes Solo drivers or rather those that aren’t carpooling are permitted to use the lanes upon payment of a fee that varies based on demand of the road. In other words, if you are moving alone you’d have to pay a certain fee to access such roads. Such an arrangement does limit the users of the road at a particular number of passengers’ way that traffic is controlled and the idea of single drivers is omitted. The charges placed on the single drivers using the lanes change throughout the day according to real-time traffic conditions, which is intended to manage the number of cars in the lanes to maintain good journey times.
In Uganda carpooling is one that has been ignored but accordingly it would be the best way to curb the issue of traffic within the city. I do believe that if well thought about and planned especially in these upscale places where almost each household has at least three cars on the move a day. Whatever the cost it’s important to also note that once the traffic is managed in the city then issues like petty theft within the roads and also uncalled for road accidents will come to a standstill.
The Ugandan government in its initiative to combat and reduce the traffic in the city is only focusing on eliminating just taxis which is a good start which started way back in 2012 with the introduction of the pioneer easy buses which in my view was a brilliant idea but was not well thought of and now 2020 we are seeing a return of a similar but more organized system and that’s with the Tondeka buses.
Under the 2012 contract signed between Pioneer and KCCA, 522 buses were to be imported in a phased manner to replace taxis in the city. This failed after KCCA failed to designate separate lanes for the buses as agreed. Still in 2012, Pioneer Easy Bus Company ran into trouble with URA over 6 Billion Shilling tax Arrears and had to be grounded. Clearly the plan wasn’t well thought of and yet a lot of money was put out for this and now i truly fear that the new Tondeka buses might suffer the same fate, that’s minus even stating how much money has been got on credit to finance this project and whose returns might seemingly be going direct back to the foreign company in charge. The plan is for the project to be self-financing without any need for the Ugandan government to provide any counterpart funding. The buses and required infrastructure will be acquired at a credit value of USD163.74 million (approximately Shs630 billion) from Exim Bank of India. The shareholders of the company that runs the buses will provide the rest of the money, estimated to be 10%of the total project cost.
Brilliant as these ideas seem, I am very skeptical and reluctant to applaud the government on this, because we as a country have the best policies but implementation hardly happens and certainly it will be another project that ends up being dropped.
By and large I opine that indeed traffic is a problem in the city but the cheaper option would be adopting carpooling which would actually be a start to a massive development in the city especially with the creation of these various lanes. Bringing in these various bus companies is something I view as a long term solution that can be used when the system has been properly monitored and cleansed of corruption.
Carpooling in whatever way it can be adopted is a very direct solution and for starters government institutions could take it up and make it a mandate to limit the cars that get into each ministry.