Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director, Jennifer Musisi, is in the spotlight for thrusting the city into the tightest traffic jam so far experienced this year.
On Friday, the city was thrown into chaos when traffic police officers left the job of guiding vehicles to traffic lights—often times misleading.
Accidents were nearly recorded at Kira Road junction thanks to malfunctioning traffic lights.
Similar incidents were reported along Makerere Hill Road, Mambule Road, Bwaise, Yusuf Lule Road near Fairway Hotel where traffic lights went off after people vandalised cables connecting the power supply, according to Peter Kauju, the KCCA spokesperson.
During the mid-term review of the institutional infrastructure development on Wednesday, Musisi said KCCA had invested a lot of money in traffic lights to save people from traffic jams, but traffic police were hindering their operation by overruling them.
“When the Police intercepts the functioning of these lights, this wastes our heavy investment and also breeds a culture of law breakers yet the Police are law enforcers,” Musisi told the meeting.
Martin Onyach Olaa, a Senior Urban Specialist at the World Bank said the Bank has invested a substantial amount of money in putting up these traffic signals.
“The Traffic Police should consider enforcing the traffic rules rather-than overriding the lights. Let the lights do their job,” Olaa was in agreement with Musisi.
Kampala Central Division Mayor, Charles Sserunjogi added with a piece of advice: “Police, allow the system to function. The citizens will learn and respect the functioning system.”
Chaos in Kampala
After passengers spending at least several hours before reaching 10 minute destinations, city dwellers started complaining on social media platforms.
Former presidential assistant for communications, now SoftPower communications director, Sarah Kagingo, was among the first to cry out to traffic police.
“Traffic lights have no intelligence to determine which routes are worth more time than others,” she said.
“Ambulances are stuck. Not even folks who are led by noisy sirens can move. We are stuck together for four hours now.”
New Times Rwanda journalist, Jacob Seaman, concluded that Ugandans were embarrassing.
“Every year we cry foul when audit reports reveal chunks of public funds used in procurement of equipment that end up redundant,” he pointed out, adding, “For Kampala, KCCA procured traffic lights and has been installing them. However, even at junctions with these lights, traffic police continue to override the lights meaning KCCA would be considered as having procured redundant lights.”
He said the director of police traffic, Steven Kasiima, wanted exactly what happened on Friday to happen so the public makes noise and he keeps his presence at traffic junctions.
“And Ugandans played to his tunes by spending all day blaming KCCA while Kasiima probably sat smiling. What police did today was criminal and someone must be brought to account.”
He added: “That person is not KCCA Ed but a man in uniform. As for Ugandans, we should stop being gullible. Only NRM folks hold that monopoly. Police played the public and wanted that outcry so that they ‘win’.”
KCCA defends its mess
The authority reminded the public in a series of tweets that it had a workshop to review #KCCAatWork under the Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP 2) attended by all key stakeholders in the city including Traffic Police.
“Our stand was very clear, KCCA installing these traffic signals coupled with the relevant road infrastructure developments to improve mobility in and around the city. The Traffic Police is expected to enforce traffic regulations,” KCCA said.
It recommended that Traffic Police focuses on enforcing traffic regulations and apprehending errant drivers and riders rather-than overriding the traffic lights.
“But not to withdraw from the streets. We have not strayed from the position of letting the traffic lights perform while the Police enforce the law on those who override them and abuse traffic regulations. That’s the stand!”
The authority argued that when the Police intercepts the functioning of these lights, this wastes KCCA investment and also breeds a culture of law breakers yet they are law enforcers.
Officers back on the streets
Former Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, Patrick Onyango, said Friday evening that traffic police officers were forced to return on the street after top management consultations.
“Otherwise people would reach their destinations tomorrow instead of today,” he argued.