Victims of road accidents will now have access to medical treatment at any health facility without making prior payments, in a bid MPs say is intended to save lives.
If assented to by the President, the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 (Amendment) Bill 2019, all health facilities will be required to accord medical assistance to accident victims without asking for money as a precondition.
“A person involved in an accident shall have access to medical treatment at a hospital, clinic or any other health facility without proof of financial ability to pay until he or she has been stabilised,” reads clause 64 of the Bill, which was been passed by Parliament on Wednesday, 29 January 2020.
Driving an acquaintance’s car without their express prior permission has also been criminalised, with a maximum sentence of six months in prison, a fine of Shs6 million or both such imprisonment and fine.
“Any person, whether employed by the owner of the motor vehicle, trailer or engineering plant or not, takes and drives away or attempts to take and drive away any motor vehicle…without the consent of the owner or his or her agent commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding three hundred currency points or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both,” reads clause 69.
A clause that sought to create a duty of care on first responders was defeated after protracted debate, with majority of MPs insisting that it should be the decision of passersby to offer assistance and not a statutory requirement.
“When you look at the clause, it is aimed at the road user and it leaves it to his discretion; therefore, I find the entire amendment redundant and does not help anyone,” said Shadow Attorney General, Hon Wilfred Niwagaba.
MP Elijah Okupa (FDC, Serere) opted to support the amendment arguing that it should be seen in terms of institutionalising kindness.
He lost the argument to the majority who insisted that it should be upon the passersby to determine by themselves whether they want to offer help or not.
Also, the Minister responsible for transport has been given sweeping powers to determine the age of cars entering the market.
Clause 70 allows the Minister working in consultation with the National Bureau of Standards to prescribe conditions of vehicles that can be imported in the country.
Still under clause 70, all passenger vehicles are now required to undergo inspection once a year and private vehicles once in 2 years.
The new law also seeks to have licensing of motor repairs garages, regulation of online transports services providers like uber and increase the validity of driving license to five years from the current one and three years.