The Ministry of Education and Sports has rolled out the use of helmets among school-going children in a move to minimise harm resulting from motorcycle accidents.
The development was revealed by the State minister for Primary Education, Ms Rosemary Seninde, during the launch of the road safety campaign, dubbed: Heads up! Protecting our children from road safety dangers at Nateete Junior School on Friday.
"Not every parent has a car. The modest means of transport is a boda boda. The issue is that it must be safe. We have to remind people that our children are our future. Without them, we have no future. If we do not protect them, the future is not safe," Ms Seninde said.
She added: "It is really important that our children get to understand that without a helmet, they must not sit on a boda boda."
The minister also appealed to the traffic directorate to implement, enforce policies, guidelines and laws on motorcyclists who carry more than one child / passenger.
"There are motorcyclists who bypass traffic lights and personnel carrying more than two school children. Something has to be done because when these children are involved in an accident, it is immeasurable great pain and loss to the country," she noted.
Ms Seninde's plea comes at a time when the 2018 police crime report indicated that motorcyclists and their passengers as a specific category or road users ranked highest in serious injuries caused by road accidents at 4,081. The same category ranked second highest to pedestrians at 1,258.
The report also says 380 motorcycle passengers died in 2018, while 878 motorcyclists died in the same year. Motorcycle passengers who were seriously injured were 1,725, while motorcyclists were 2,356. Motorcycle passengers who sustained minor injuries were 197 against 220 motorcyclists.
The Vivo Energy Uganda corporate communications manager, Mr Valery Oketcho, said the Heads up campaign was extended to public schools around Kampala to introduce and promote mandatory use of child-specific helmets to school heads and parents for school-going children to protect them from exposure to risks on the road.
"We conducted research in the participating schools to find out how many children report to school on boda bodas. This informed us in the procurement process and distribution," Mr Oketcho revealed.
"It is a behavioural change campaign to inform parents who take their children to school on boda bodas that they need to protect them. The riders sometimes have helmet but children do not," he added.
Heads Up campaign is a partnership between Vivo Energy Uganda and Safe Boda Uganda. In its first phase, the schools road safety initiative will be rolled out to 12 public schools located in high traffic areas of Kampala. The partnership will see child helmets donated to the school management, who will distribute and manage their use among their pupils who use motorcycle transportation to attend school. The helmets will also be available for purchase at Shell service stations at discounted rates for the public.
According to a recent study on motorcycle use carried out by Africa Community Access Partnership (AFCAP), only two percent of motorcyclists had attended a driving school, and only 10 per cent had riding licenses. Ugandan motorcyclists had the lowest ownership of helmets at 41 percent with only 25 per cent reporting that they always wore helmets. Ugandan riders also had the highest proportion of injuries at 48 per cent.