Experts warn against allowing children top of boda boda fuel tanks

Boda boda rider with school kids

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Road safety experts and advocates, including representatives from organizations such as Hope for Victims of Traffic Accidents (HOVITA), United Nations Association Uganda (UNAU), Zembo Motors, and Africa Youth Leadership Development and Health (AYLDH), are warning parents against allowing their children to ride on motorcycle fuel tanks.

The caution is based on concerns raised by Rev. Evatt Mugarura, the founder of AYLDH, who highlighted the vulnerability of children on Boda Boda fuel tanks, making them prone to injuries in case of accidents or collisions.

Mugarura stressed that even minor incidents could lead to children being the first to fall off the motorcycles, contributing to the alarming statistics of approximately 631 children lost in road crashes annually in Uganda, with nearly 2,000 sustaining life-threatening injuries.

The experts believe that avoiding risky behaviors, such as carrying children on fuel tanks and overloading motorcycles, could significantly reduce these tragic incidents.

The recently launched “Shield Campaign” in Kampala aims to discourage the practice of loading multiple children on a single motorcycle, which often results in riders placing children on fuel tanks. Financial difficulties were identified as one of the reasons some parents insist on loading three or more children on a single motorcycle.

Sylvester Ndagize, a parent and Boda Boda rider, acknowledged the challenges but emphasized the importance of prioritizing child safety.

Police records from the past five years revealed that 3,155 children under 18 died in road crashes, with 5,949 sustaining injuries. The campaign targets both riders and passengers, emphasizing the responsibility of adults to protect children from practices that jeopardize their safety.

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Mary Namata, an IT graduate and mother of three, shared her approach of hiring an experienced motorcyclist to transport her children to school, underscoring the significance of ensuring their safety.

Health risks associated with exposing children to cold temperatures and emissions from fuel tanks while seated on motorcycles were also highlighted by Jackie Okao, the in-country coordinator of the Global Health Advocacy Initiative.

Anthony Kimuli from Traffic Safety Awareness Organisation Uganda Limited (TRASAO) emphasized the initiative to train cyclists on road safety and the legal aspect that restricts children under 12 from riding motorcycles alone without an elder’s support. The overarching message is a collective responsibility to protect innocent children from practices that compromise their safety on the roads.