Kampala, Uganda – A cross-section of legislators is proposing penalties against drivers who splash water on pedestrians. Such incidences have been common, in parts of Kampala, where a number of roads are covered in potholes, logged with water and poor drainage systems.
In some instances, drivers who splash pedestrians reconcile with just an apology, while in most cases, they drive off leaving the drenched pedestrians astonished.
But Ayivu County MP Bernard Atiku says road users must be held accountable for their actions. He urges the Ugandan government to emulate the United Kingdom which charges hefty fines from drivers who splash pedestrians with water from the road while driving.
The Road Traffic Act in the United Kingdom makes it an offence to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons. The law provides a maximum punishment of 5,000 British Pounds (24 million Shillings) in instances where driving amounts to a clear act of incompetence, selfishness, impatience or aggressiveness.
John Baptist Nambeshe, the Manjia county Member of Parliament says Uganda needs to restore sanity on the roads, and ensure that each road user enjoys the same rights. He adds that the Traffic and Road Safety Bill, which is now before parliament should consider tough penalties for road users who run off after splashing water on pedestrians.
Bubulo West MP Rose Mutonyi observes a need for guidance in order to come up with a carefully researched proposal to be entrenched in the current Traffic and Roads Safety Bill. She, however, says that the situation is complex because it’s hard to draw a line between a mistake and careless driving. Mutonyi says the government can partially solve the problem by improving the state of roads.
Geoffrey Kalema, a bodaboda rider in Kampala shares his frustration from incidences where his days were ruined after being splashed with water by moving vehicles. According to Kalema, his efforts to report the driver even after getting the number plates were in vain, as police said they could do nothing.
According to the Director of traffic at the Uganda Police Stephen Kasiima, it is not an offence to splash water on anyone because it is not provided for under the current law. Kasiima says that the only thing that the police can do is to ask the drivers to apologize.
“We tell the people to apologize, or buy soap for the person soaked in the water among others, because we can’t charge them, and also considering the bad roads, you cannot blame the person for splashing the water,” Kasiima says.