Kenneth Mulinde, The Face Behind the Campaign for Safer Roads for Women and Youth in Uganda

In this interview for Youth Time Magazine Mulinde speaks more about how this initiative promotes safety and quality of life for all road users in Uganda, with an emphasis on young people.

In April 2021, Kenneth Mulinde, Executive Director, Youth Arts Movement Uganda (YAMU), in partnership with YOURS-Youth for Road Safety, and the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety launched a Road Safety campaign dubbed #BeRoadSmartUG.

The #BeRoadSmartUG campaign has actively engaged young people to create public awareness of the urgency of road safety for vulnerable road users in Uganda.

It has also advocated with decision-makers through dialogue and petition to position strategies that respond to women’s rights and to enact laws that guarantee safer mobility for females and other vulnerable travelers from harassment, street violence, and abuse.

Mulinde elaborates how this campaign urgently calls for interventions to empower road users, by promoting roads as safe-public living spaces for all, meaningful youth participation in road safety decision making, and advocating with key authorities to improve traffic law enforcement and compliance by December 2023.

 

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Photo courtesy of Kenneth Mulinde, YAMU

Transforming the Transport System for Better

Mulinde explains the idea of a transport system that is built upon human rights concepts to ensure equity, and that responds to gender perspectives in public safety and road traffic solutions.

“We aim our efforts at highlighting the needs of women and men being equally addressed and involved in shaping the road transport system, which is currently not the case.”

Mulinde and his team believe if road infrastructures and policies were designed within a feminist lens and informed gender perspective, we would have much safer roads leading to fewer road fatalities and injustices.

“A safe city for women is a safe city for everyone,” he adds.

This month marks the final activities of the campaign, including the official handover of the youth petition to the Uganda Ministry of Works and Transport, plus the certificate award ceremony for Road Smart Ninjaz.

The youth petition for road safety is calling on the Uganda Ministry of Works and Transport, and the Police Force, to make a strong stand against road violence and harassment of vulnerable road users. This means treating road violence and harassment as the crime it is and not excusing it based on discriminatory and misinformed attitudes.

Even people who are not from Uganda can sign HERE the petition helping youth in Uganda.

 

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Photo courtesy of Kenneth Mulinde, YAMU

 

“This is a group of young motorcyclists and activists who have benefited from our road safety education program. These two activities will mark the end of the project, but the campaign continues.”

They invite young people across the world to support their advocacy.

“We will also do follow-up actions with decision-makers to make sure that they’re reminded of the aspirations and voices of the young people in the petition and that their commitments to addressing some of these issues are taken into consideration,” he highlights.

 

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Photo courtesy of Kenneth Mulinde, YAMU

Youth as a Part of the Solution

He says the role of young people is to be role models, speak up and have their voices heard.

“We, as young people, have a responsibility to be part of the solution, to prevent further suffering, not just victims of this road safety crisis. It is time to protect ourselves and those around us, our peers deep down in the communities.”

So, throughout the year, they will continue to create awareness on public safety and safe mobility across the country, but also globally on our social media platforms.

“We invite you all to join us. It does not matter which field of work you are involved in. Your skills, networks, and any kind of support you might have access to within your reach are needed to solve this road safety pandemic for young people.”

 

The team behind the youth petition
Photo courtesy of Kenneth Mulinde, YAMU

Putting Things into Perspective

What makes this initiative even more important is the worrisome fact that on Uganda’s roads the youth are under attack.

Uganda has the youngest age structure in the world, with 77% of its population under the age of 30, and according to the World Health Organization, road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for young people below 29 years.

“Approximately 12,035 Ugandans die on the roads, and at least 180,540 suffer from serious injuries annually. These are not merely figures, behind every number is a friend, a parent, a student, a mother, or father,” he says.

The most affected are young people of school-going age and young adults who actively engaged in the informal sector, as commercial motorcyclists, taxi touts, and young drivers.

“Nevertheless,” Mulinde tells us, “street violence and harassment of girls and women continue to threaten our public safety. The school-going children, girls, and women who commute by cheap and accessible options like walking, minibus taxis, and cycling pay the highest price.”

They are convinced to state that unsafe roads, largely facilitate attacks on women’s rights and public safety.

Fortunately, the #BeRoadSmartUG is working to change this, and if you relate to this important cause, please click HERE to donate.


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