Kampala Northern bypass: pedestrians demand for lights at footbridges.

  • Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1345 EAT on Sunday 3rd July 2022.

The 22km Kampala Northern bypass comprises four-foot bridges to help pedestrians cross the road safely without being crashed by the fast-moving traffic underneath. The footbridges are located in Naalya, Kyebando, Kalerwe, and Kiwatule areas.

While the footbridges are a key component of the bypass, none of them has lights, which exposes the users to attacks by thugs under the cover of darkness. The bridges are also a meeting place for youthful lovers during odd hours.

Esther Kakayi uses the footbridge at Kyebando from her church to her home during night hours. She told URN that there is a need for the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to install lights on the footbridges to ensure the safety of the users.

Kakayi, who once fell victim to the attackers, says that used to be police deployment on the footbridge but the officers are no longer there. Rose Nalumansi, a student from Kololo secondary school said that she is often disturbed by the men she finds on the footbridge whenever it gets dark yet she has no choice but to use the footbridge.

Steven Magino, a boda-boda rider at Kalerwe footbridge wants the police to ensure all pedestrians use the footbridge to avoid accidents and protect the users at night. He reveals that the in-charge of the Kibe police post banned people who stand on top of the footbridge to avoid crime.

Allan Ssempebwa, the spokesperson of the UNRA, says that there is a plan of lighting up the Northern bypass and procurement is underway. According to Ssempebwa, the decision is aimed at reducing criminality along the road and helping the road users. 

Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, says police conducted various operations along the road and rounded up several criminals, which helped the situation to normalize. He however said that the army and police will intensify night patrols to ensure the safety of all users.

In January this year police conducted intensive operations along the Northern bypass under the command of Steven Tanui, the Kampala Metropolitan police commander. Police arrested ten suspects believed to have been behind the attack on motorists and pedestrians with pavers. Police said that the suspects were found with marijuana, knives, and stolen phones.

Last month, Kampala based lawyer and motorist, Michael Aboneka who regularly plies the Kampala-Entebbe expressway, sued the Attorney General and UNRA over lack of street lights along the road. Aboneka is demanding Shs 100 million compensation.

He filed the case, through Thomas and Michael Advocates, before the civil division of the High court in Kampala on June 16. Aboneka says the ministry of Works and Transport (represented by the Attorney General) and UNRA are in “breach of statutory duty” for failing to install streetlights on the expressway, Kampala Northern bypass and all other national roads and highways.

He explains that the failure to provide lighting on the said roads has “grossly threatened” his life, “curtailed his free movement in his own country, and inconvenienced him from practising his trade as a Ugandan advocate, farmer and businessman who carries on his practice and trade in various parts of Uganda and out of Uganda and sometimes comes back at night using the said roads.” 

Aboneka says the ministry of Works is responsible for the national roads and transport sector in Uganda and UNRA’s supervisor, while UNRA is charged with the responsibility of maintaining, managing and developing the national road network among others according to the UNRA Act, 2006.

But he says the ministry and UNRA have failed to perform their statutory duty or obligation to install lighting on roads to ensure the safety of road users, “which has constrained” his “right to movement”, and poses a threat to his life and other road users among others.

“The darkness that descends on the said roads at night due to the lack of streetlights renders them treacherous for motorists and all road users as they are susceptible to accidents and has further attracted criminality which is a threat and danger to the life of Plaintiff and all other road users,” Aboneka pleads.

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