KAMPALA, September 19, 2016 – It has now been 14 years since the country was rocked by shocking news. The top four USPA executive members had died in a fatal road accident near Lugazi town, on the Jinja-kenya highway. The fallen members were Kenneth Matovu, Leo Kubungo, Simon Peter Ekarot and Francis Battle Jr.
The four who were among the cream of the nation’s prolific writers were returning to Kampala after meeting with Nile Breweries officials. They were negotiating with USPA’s main sponsor for the annual gala where top athletes are awarded.
It is from this background that USPA started the road safety campaign week in memory of the fallen comrades. The idea is to sensitize the public on road accidents. According to Uganda’s national road authority (UNRA) traffic and road safety Director Reuben Tumwebazi, over 3000 people died in road accidents last year, with Uganda having the highest rate of accidents in Africa after Ethiopia. “My directorate is charged with ensuring safe roads. Our role as partners in this cause is to ensure that we construct forgiving roads that can accommodate error in the event that a user makes a mistake.”
The Road safety campaign week started with a church memorial service at Christ The King Church attracting several officials from Ugandan sports federations and associations, the Ministry of Sports, journalist, partners and family members of the deceased.
“It’s important to remember our fallen comrades as they loved USPA with passion. Am glad USPA has carried on with this campaign,” Francis Batte Snr,the father of the late Francis Batte Jr said.
The Road safety campaign has become the most popular one in the country attracting more partners like local football club KCCA FC and UNRA on top of standard chartered and City Tyres who have supported the cause for 10 years.
During the safety week, USPA members and KCCA FC players and sensitized road users in Kampala on roads usage under the theme ‘Learn and respect road signs’’. Stickers, and bibs were given out to the public and to road users during the campaign.
The road safety campaign week came to a close in Buwama, Masaka road where over 300 people had previously lost their lives and over 500 left injured due to road accidents in just the last 8 months this year. Led by a brass band, USPA members, partners and locals matched through the trading centre with stickers, posters, bibs and banners with road safety message that were given out to the road users including to those driving the vehicles that were held during the exercise. The zebra crossing at the Trading centre was painted, after which the group marched back to the community playground where other activities took place including the City Tyres USPA Road Safety Football Cup. The Taxi drivers beat USPA Scribes 1-0 to claim the trophy.
“As a road accident victim on this particular road, all I can say is: Life can't be bought, it is anyone's greatest asset & wealth. Let's commit to protect lives every time we set out on our journeys. Take responsibility for other road users safety,” Cynthia Mpanga from Standard Chartered Bank, one of the event sponsors said.
USPA President Sabiiti Muwanga hailed the exercise, thanking the partners who have been part of the campaign for 10 years and the two new partners. He encouraged the entire public to join the campaign to fight road accidents and ensure safety throughout the nation.