Drivers along Kampala-Masaka road have resorted to using porous routes in the villages to avoid Operation Fika Salaama. The operation, now in its second month, was mounted by Traffic Police, Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA and the Ministry of Works and Transport to address rampant motor accidents on Masaka Road.
The operation, now in its second month, was mounted by Traffic Police, Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA and the Ministry of Works and Transport to address rampant motor accidents on Masaka Road.
Traffic officers target drivers of vehicles in Dangerous Mechanical Condition, those without valid driving permits, and those over-speeding among others.
At the time the operation was launched in August, at least 100 people had died in Masaka road accidents since the beginning of the year.
There are two major police checks on the highway, at Kaduggala and Katonga. Vehicles are stopped, inspected and drivers asked to present driving permits before they proceed with the journey.
Since its inception two months ago, the operation has netted over 1,000 drivers for lack of valid driving permits, dangerous or excess loading, lack of third part insurance, driving vehicles in dangerous mechanical conditions and reckless driving.
Unlike the past when express penalties would be given to traffic offenders, those arrested through Operation Fika Salaama are detained and then prosecuted in courts of law.
Some drivers have devised ways of beating the operation by using village routes commonly known as panya. The drivers are now using Kako-Mukungwe route, connecting back to Masaka-Kampala highway at Matanga. This is a narrow, dusty community road where you find huge vehicles manoeuvring through with goods for fear of being arrested.
A Uganda Radio Network (URN) reporter on Monday counted at least 60 vehicles passing through this road to beat the Kaddugala check point. Some of the vehicles include overloaded cars plying Masaka - Lukaya route and Fuso lorries carrying merchandise.
At least three omnibuses were seen using this road and connecting back to Masaka-Kampala highway after bypassing Kaddugala police check point.
The drivers who declined to identify themselves told URN that they have decided to avoid the highway because of the strictness of the enforcers of the operation.
Two drivers displayed what they called genuine driving permits but noted that their vehicles had worn-out tyres. They say although they had parked their cars, it was hard for them to survive. They therefore decided to return of the road, make some money and buy tyres.
Other drivers claim that enforcers of the operation ask for a lot of money. One of the drivers claims that he was arrested two months ago and court asked for 900,000 shillings yet the traffic offence was just a slightly broken windscreen.
Hassan Ssekalema, the Police Officer in Charge of Traffic in Masaka says they are aware of the new trick drivers are using. He says they have also driven through it to investigate those beating their operation.
Ssekalema says they are not allowed to go chase them but they have a solution for them.
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