‘This zebra crossing will alert motorists to give way to our children’

From a distance, the section of Bombo road above Bat Valley primary school in Kampala looks bright with new black and white stripes.

Before September 30, 2018, the road was plain and the vehicles flew over without minding who is crossing.

The white and black stripes are a new zebra crossing at Bat Valley primary school, courtesy of British Academy supported i-CMiiST (implementing creative methodological innovations for inclusive & sustainable transport planning) Kampala team. This is intended to help pupils studying at two public schools – Buganda road and Bat Valley – to be safe on their way to and from school.

Buganda road primary school pupils wait at the newly painted zebra crossing to cross to their school

At least 500 pupils from both schools cross the spot every day to and from school. Previously, the spot didn’t anything to show it was a crossing point.

While there was a lollipop man to help stop the vehicles for the children to cross, he admits lack of any signage to slow down vehicles made his work a little harder.

Mr. Jude Ssekajigo, who has been helping children cross, told the i-CMiiST team that not only was his life in danger but also for the children.

“Sometimes I would put a post to stop the vehicles but they would just continue coming,” Ssekajigo said. “I hope this zebra crossing will alert them that people are crossing from there.”

Mr. Odeke, the deploying traffic officer for nearby Wandegeya police station, applauded the intervention saying it was more visible and that he expected motorists to respect it.

To the i-CMiiST team, this zebra crossing is a culmination a few months engagement of the children from both schools using creative methods to impart road safety messages. The children painted, recited road safety poems, and the team facilitate to simulated what happens on the road and what is expected of them.

The intention was to mentor road safety ambassadors. At Bat Valley, we engaged more than 50 pupils from the P1 class while at Buganda road the team engaged 40 pupils drawn from both P1 and P2 classes.

One of the messages that was emphasized through the engagements was that the pupils must use the walkways, zebra crossing and never ever to play in the road or push their friends into road on their way to and from school.

Motorists have a problem of overrunning zebra crossing or not respecting most road signs. Here, a lollipop man still has to help stop cars for the children to cross safely but he says the painting increases visibility.

When we went to observe on was using a new zebra crossing, we found it was not just the school children but also old people were using the spot to cross the road.

The trend in Kampala is that motorists rarely respect road signages, including the zebra crossing. This an area for intervention that the city authority, KCCA, and other responsible bodies must work on.

The team appreciates KCCA and traffic police for providing a conducive environment to carryout this exercise.

By Alon Mwesigwa, research assistant Kampala.

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