Vivo Energy, the company that distributes and markets Shell-branded fuels and lubricants in Uganda and Safe Boda have launched a school’s road safety initiative to promote the use of child-specific safety helmets, especially among school-going children.
The campaign named “Heads Up” was graced by the Minister of State for Primary Education, Rosemary Ssenninde .
Speaking at the function, the Vivo Energy Uganda Corporate Communications Manager, Valery Okecho said on many occasions, children have not been catered for in the various road campaigns, adding that they had to start one that would target them.
“This a behavioural change campaign that seeks to highlight the plight of children using public motorcycle transportation commonly referred to as boda bodas for their daily commute to and from school, without the recommended safety protection,” Oketcho said.
“The Heads Up campaign is in line with Vivo Energy Uganda’s Schools Road Safety program and will seek to introduce and promote the mandatory use of child-specific helmets to school heads and parents for school going children using boda bodas, in a bid to protect them from the exposure to risks on the road.”
He noted that there has been a road safety management gap that needed to be addressed.
“We found the perfect partner in Safe Boda Uganda, who have demonstrated best practices in road safety for their riders and passengers including availing helmets. With a mutual interest in road safety, our synergies will now seek to extend this concept to children using boda bodas,” said Okecho.
“Our company is responsible for over 50,000 daily road users, with a sizeable proportion of these being children moving to and from school. It is with this background that we are excited to partner with Vivo energy to improve road safety of children, through increasing awareness and improving access to life saving helmets,”Safe Boda co-founder Papa Ricky said.
He urged general public to embrace the campaign in order to make Ugandan roads safer for all.
Vivo Energy Uganda’s Managing Director, Gilbert Assi said through the initiative,they will try to create public awareness about road safety.
“If Uganda is to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal target of halving the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020, a lot more needs to be done. The Heads Up! schools road safety initiative is our call to action. Through this, we seek to give everyone a heads up about the dangers of riding a boda boda without a helmet. Correct helmet use can lead to a reduction of fatal road injuries, ” Assi said.
He added, “Creating safe road users also requires that we increase public awareness about their role in enhancing their own safety. Hopefully, this campaign will inspire the introduction and enforcement of policy to address regulation of safe transportation of children using motorcycle transportation to and from schools.’’
The Minister of State for Primary Education, Hon. Rosemary Seninde commended Vivo Energy for the initiative that she said will have a lasting impact on the country’s future.
“We commend both Vivo Energy Uganda and Safe Boda Uganda for proactively seeking to address this gap in road safety, especially for our school children. The risks that we expose our children to while they journey to school every day should be addressed by all if we are to ensure full attendance of government programs such as Universal Primary Education. This, in turn, will support the government’s efforts to scale up the levels of literacy across the nation,” Sseninde said.
In its first phase, the initiative will be rolled out to 12 public schools located in high traffic areas of Kampala district.
The partnership will see child helmets donated to the school managements who will distribute and manage their use among pupils who use motorcycle transportation to attend school.
The helmets will also be available for purchase at Shell service stations at discounted rates for the public.
According to a recent study on motorcycle use carried out by Africa Community Access Partnership (AFCAP), only 2% of motorcycle riders had attended a driving school and only 10% had riding licenses.
Ugandan motorcycle riders had the lowest ownership of helmets at 41% with only 25% reporting that they always wore helmets.
Ugandan riders also had the highest proportion of injuries at 48%.
Globally, road traffic accidents annually kill over 1.25 million people, while 20-50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries. In Uganda, road traffic accidents kill over 3,500 people, including about 600 children, every year on our roads.