Vivo Energy Uganda and Safe Boda Uganda launch child safety helmet initiative in public schools
Kampala: 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 ourroads.
Vivo Energy Uganda, the company that distributes and markets Shell branded fuels and lubricants in Uganda, on Friday launched a school’s road safety initiative named ‘Heads Up’, promoting the use of child specific safety helmets, especially among school going children. The launch ceremony was graced by the Minister of State for Primary Education, Hon. Rosemary Seninde and high rankingofficials from the Ministry of Works and Transport, the Uganda Police Force, the Ministry of Education and Sports and the school community.
According to the Vivo Energy Uganda Corporate Communications Manager, Valery Okecho: “‘Heads Up!’ is 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.’’
“The Heads Up! campaign is in line with Vivo EnergyUganda’s Schools Road Safety programme 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. This is a gap in road safety management that we are here to address. 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 bodabodas,” said Okecho.
Safe Boda Uganda Co-Founder Ricky Rapa Thomson said, “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. We call upon the general public to embrace this campaign and work with us towards making our roads safer for all.
Speaking at the launch ceremony held at Nateete Junior School, Vivo Energy Uganda’s Managing Director, Gilbert Assi said, “If Uganda is to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal target of halving the numberof 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 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 regulationof safe transportation of children using motor cycle transportation to and from schools.’’
Road Safety is a key focus area for Vivo Energy Uganda which on average operates 300 trucks transporting fuel products every day. Other Road Safety initiatives include the Tweddeko media campaign on TV and on the road through the Tweddeko caravan. Annually, the company convenes key players in the road and traffic sector to discuss and develop actionable plans to improve road safety through the National Road Safety Summit. The initiatives seek to complement the efforts by key players such as the Ministry of Works and Transport, Uganda Police and others in a bid to improvecurrent road safety statistics.
The Minister of State for Primary Education, Hon. Rosemary Seninde commended the Heads Up initiative by Vivo Energy Uganda and Safe Boda Uganda for highlightingthis important aspect of road safety for school children.
“We commend both Vivo Energy Uganda and Safe BodaUganda 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 dayshould be addressed by all if we are to ensure full attendance of government programs such as Universal Primary Education. This in turn will support government’s efforts to scale up the levels of literacy across the nation.”
Heads Up is a partnership between Vivo Energy Uganda and Safe Boda Uganda. In its first phase, the Schools Roads Safety 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 management who will distribute and manage their use amongtheir 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 only10% had riding licenses. Ugandan motorcycle riders had the lowest ownership of helmets at 41% with only 25% reporting that they always wore helmets. Uganda riders also had the highest proportion of injuries at 48%.