The Trailblazer brings you discussions and views that are exchanged between members of the 8M Information Forum. This time around, one of the topics touched was humps, bumps,  locally referred to as ‘vinundunundu’. What the forum may not have touched was whether there is a policy on rumps, complete with specifications, designs and any other pertinent issues.

Below are excerpts:

Hans M: Members of the 8M Information Forum, the topic on table is “Merits and Demerits of Humps, Ramps and Rumbles. Discuss.”

Sometime around June this year, someone counted 237 ramps, bumps, rumbles or humps (whatever you prefer to call them) on the new highway from Mbarara to Kampala. Humps have advantages and disadvantages. They are meant to reduce speed along a highway, where, in the first place, unplanned settlement has been left, and there is hardly enough road reserve to ensure settlement stays far from the road. They possibly save pedestrians and certainly hurt motorists.

However, what is their genesis and the fundamental problem they seek to solve? Is their placement on the road the best solution? When the road was in disrepair, the journey took long and lots of fuel for motorists. Now that the road is repaired, the journey is taking nearly equally long and much fuel. Can members discuss the merits and demerits of humps?

Francis B: Thanks Hans. My suggestion is that we first hear from the planners and then we can join after having understood the rationale of the numerous humps and similar constructions.

Hans M: Thanks for your input, Francis. But I am also looking for unadulterated input from independently minded members, as the MOWT may prefer to toy their line, which I agree is also worth listening to. Surely, members, give us your views.

Francis B: So over to you UNRA and MOWT! No answer is also an answer!

David K: I love the challenge of “No answer is also a LOUD answer.” You forgot to add KCCA, and other local urban centres. I was in Kisoro the other day. The humps are so big that the car throws passengers visibly and uncomfortably up and down, while the wear and tear takes its toll on the vehicle. Mechanical engineers can tell us the extent of possible damage of cars and the maintenance expenditure. Planners can tell us why Uganda has a narrow road reserve, 30 metres only, while I understand other countries go in for 50m or 100m for highways. I thought we have abundant land and we should “build for the future,” as Makerere University says in its motto.

Edgar M: On the issue of humps, they’re a good safety measure although they should be a last-resort measure when one considers the safety hierarchy. Perhaps the number of humps on the Kampala-Mbarara highway would be less if there was a strong emphasis on elimination of road hazards and sensitization of road users on matters to do with road safety.

Edward K: There is need to study the attitude of the road users to the provision of the humps.  If the humps were doing any useful contribution, the number of road accidents would have reduced.  But the trend of accidents appears to be on the upward trend.  To what extent do the humps really contribute to reduction of road accidents? I had an idea that instead of humps on the roads, perhaps guard rails could be provided on the sides of  built trading centres up areas to enable the pedestrians not cross all the time and anyhow. Is there a relationship between road humps and reduction of road accidents?

Hans M: Thanks, I see the point, Edgar. Of course all the humps are located in the so many semi-urban centres which have mushroomed along the highway. If they were not there, this would decrease the problem. Question: Does policy allow construction and development of these dwellings or not? What is the policy, anyway? Francis’s challenge for answers still stands.

Chris B: Eng Hans in all these, where is UNABCEC (Uganda National Association of Builders and Engineering Contractors)? Whereas when the accidents occur, it’s a public good but when the reports are produced if they have ever been concluded, they tend to be delivered to very few stakeholders who may or may not provide solutions or mitigations. Are we right to advocate for public safety as a forum here and if yes, then how? Shalom!

Livingstone K: Hans, sometime back I mentioned that the humps, rattles in particular, cause a lot of damage to vehicles, hence high maintenance costs. Vehicle owners suffer a financial burden and by extension the economy, for instance, in terms of time, etc.

Francis B: I stumbled on just a handful of published well-designed studies describing the effect of road humps on traffic accidents. It would be interesting to hear of the scientific merits and demerits of humps, etc.

John B: Humps, obugulumu (Luganda), vinundunundu (Swahili). I am not an engineer of any sort. But I am well-travelled around the continent. In South Africa and Botswana, highways such as Mbarara-Kampala do not have these road impediments called humps and whatever. Highways are fenced off and settlements are not allowed by distance or must be “guarded”. For cattle and other farm animals that are caught crossing highways, the owners are heavily surcharged. It all boils down to us professionals taking responsibility for leaving our country to deteriorate to present levels. I even recall President Museveni complaining about humps on the highway. If we had strongly lobbied at that stage, may be a government policy would have been instituted. But it’s never too late.

Hans M: A good observation, John! As to whether “it’s never too late,” I am not sure!

Francis B: The probability allows for the following cases: ALL, SOME, NONE!

Steven K: The solution lies in a sober analysis of why they have to be built in the first place. Poorly trained road users, driving under the influence of substances you cannot define, seemingly impatient at all times, never willing/ready to follow the laws; all in a country with a very poor record of law enforcement! In the short run, you ‘touch’ the vinundunundu at your own peril.



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