If you have been to Uganda (my second home), you will surely know what it’s like driving in Kampala traffic. What you will see is unbelievable (as much as I love it), it’s unfortunate.
The small capital of Uganda; Kampala city has a population of more than 1.5 million people. It’s a beautiful hilly city but unfortunately with terrible roads. The roads are very narrow and have a few traffic signals that hardly function.
Most of the roads go in circles with various lanes and are anything that is passible no matter the depth of the canyon-esque potholes. Sure many are blacktops like in the U.S., but others are dirt roads, trails or walking paths. If it’s wide enough, it can be driven on.
Then comes the famous boda-bodas! (Motor-cycles) which are commonly used as taxis/ quick transportation. Oh my God, the main cause of accidents in Kampala! Over 80% of accidents on Kampala roads are caused by boda-bodas. And the cyclists ride without helmets- oh yes, unbelievable.
Point to note is that these boda-bodas are border line magic. People haul an entire family of four, house furniture and hundreds of pounds of fruit. Others even carry coffins (with the body) tied to the back!
With all this commotion are also thousands of pedestrians at risk; either manning their roadside stores or standing inches from the edge of the road as countless rearview mirrors whiz by their heads. This includes children, who learn from an early age to be mindful of the roads. By the way, pedestrians have no right to way but instead the right to move out of the way!
Then there is the rate of motion. Kampala traffic has two speeds – warp and gridlock. Basic rule: You go as fast as you can for as long as you can, and then usually you hit traffic or speed humps (not bumps) to slow you down. And speed humps are everywhere.
Most importantly, despite the chaotic feel for visitors, the people in Kampala city are relaxed and calm. Very used to the road system. There is no such thing as road rage or fear.
All in all, I appreciate the road and traffic system in the US, especially in Washington DC and wish the Ugandan Government could do something to reverse this terrible shameful road system to at least reduce road accidents!