16 March 2009

Uganda: Tough Traffic Laws Start

Kampala — The stringent sections of the amended 1998 traffic law, which had been suspended, now take immediate effect.

The Kampala Extra region Police chief, Lauben Mbamanya, said yesterday the tough measures are intended to reduce road carnage on Ugandan roads, the second-highest in Africa.

Over 2,000 died in road accidents last year.

So, motorists who cause bodily injury to road users, leading to their death, will be fined up to sh3m, or be jailed for three years, the Police said.

Anyone who drives a motor-vehicle in poor mechanical condition and causes bodily harm to members of the public will, upon conviction, be fined sh1.2m, or face a jail term of three years, or both.

Any Police officer in uniform, not just the traffic Police, can arrest, without a warrant, anybody breaching the law, according to the law.

"Drivers who carry loads in excess of the required chassis will also be fined between sh1m and sh1.8m," Mbamanya said.

Motorists who load trucks dangerously, thereby putting other road users at risk, will be fined a maximum of sh3m, or jailed for up to three years.

"This goes especially to people who load cattle, bricks, sand and other materials that go dropping along the way," said the Kampala deputy Police spokesman, Simon Lubega.

The new measures should have been implemented in 1998 when the Act was amended. However, some motorists complained that some sections were harsh, prompting the transport minister to suspend them.

But their suspension has now been lifted, said Mbamanya.

Under the 1970 Traffic and Road Safety Act, motorists who breached the controversial sections, were fined peanuts, which they gladly paid.

For instance, offenders of Section 108, which deals with vehicles in poor shape and reckless driving, were fined a maximum of sh5,000, Lubega said.

Now, said Lubega, the offenders will have to part with a whopping sh1.8m, or be jailed for three years, or both.

Speeding, drunk-driving or driving under the influence of drugs, will attract fines ranging from sh1.2m to sh3m, or jail ranging from two to three years, said Mbamanya.

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