Traffic in Kampala

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Unbelievable traffic is the way of life on Kampala roads especially in the mornings and evenings. People getting to and from work, parents and school buses dropping off or picking kids from school, or people just going around their business.  If you have an appointment in town at 9 am, and you live in one of the suburbs that is about 20 minutes away, you need to get on the road by 7 am . That is how bad Kampala traffic is, especially on weekdays. And when it rains, the situation gets worse. You are very likely to hear someone at the office say they are leaving early; reason; “it looks like it’s going to rain”.

There are a number of roads famous for their traffic- Entebbe road where you are likely to get stuck on the Clock Tower round-about, just as you are trying to get out of town, for over thirty minutes. Folks headed towards Mukono often leave town very either early, or very late in the evening to avoid the traffic. The traffic situation on Kampala roads is made worse by the countless number of roundabouts and the size of the roads [most Kampala roads are two-lane].

A drive during Kampala’s traffic-crazy hours is nothing to look forward to. You have to deal with the dust and heat [during the dry seasons] and the noise because drivers tend to lean on their horns out of frustration. Many drivers, especially taxi drivers try to take short-cuts to avoid the delays on the main roads. Most of these so-called ‘short-cuts’ are barely roads.  I have been in situations where a taxi gets stuck in one of these small, muddy short-cuts.

Any driver on Kampala roads will tell you about dealing with the menace that is boda-bodas [motorcycle taxis]. They blatantly ignore traffic rules and are forever trying to get to their destination faster than anyone, albeit in a terrifying dance routine around other road users. This accounts for the large number of boda-boda accidents on the roads. That aside, if you are pressed for time or don’t have the patience to sit in a taxi or your car for hours, boda-bodas are the fastest option.

Image Credit: Tim Abbott

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