KAMPALA — According to the UN, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults, while more than half of traffic deaths occur among pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
In Uganda, fatalities among passengers on motorcycles went up by 4.5 percent in 2022, according to the Annual Crime Report by the Uganda Police.
Vivo Energy Uganda, the company that distributes and markets Shell-branded fuels and lubricants in Uganda, has today relaunched its award-winning school’s road safety initiative named ‘Heads Up’, which donates and promotes the use of child-specific safety helmets for school-going children.
The event, held at Shimoni Primary School in Kololo, was presided over by the State Minister for Primary Education, Hon. Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, with high-ranking officials from the Ministry of Works and Transport, the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Uganda Police Force, KCCA, and the school community in attendance.
According to Vivo Energy Uganda Corporate Communications Manager, Valery Okecho, the behavioural change campaign seeks to highlight the plight of children using public motorcycle transportation, commonly referred to as ‘boda-bodas’, for their daily commute to school without appropriate safety helmets.
“The ‘HeadsUp!’ campaign is in line with our Schools’ Road Safety programme and will seek to enhance the safety of school children by increasing awareness about the life-saving benefits of child safety helmets to stakeholders such as school heads, parents and boda-boda riders. We aim to increase access to helmets through donations to schoolchildren in public schools in a bid to protect them from exposure to risks on the road. This is a gap in road safety management that we have proactively identified and seek to address,” said Mr Okecho.
The award-winning campaign was first launched in 2019 before being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first phase of the campaign, Vivo Energy distributed helmets to over 500 children in public schools located in high-traffic areas of Kampala district.
Speaking at the event, Vivo Energy Uganda’s Managing Director, Johan Grobbelaar, said, “Vivo Energy is dedicated to making a positive impact on road safety and remains committed to protecting the well-being of schoolchildren. We believe that promoting responsible road use and habits will safeguard their lives and allow for uninterrupted education. This is in line with the ideals of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, which aims to halve the number of traffic injuries and deaths by 2030.”
Mr Grobbelaar added, “Creating safe road users also requires that we increase public awareness about their role in enhancing their own safety. Hopefully the ‘HeadsUp!’ campaign will in turn inspire the introduction and enforcement of policies to address the regulation of safe transportation of children using motorcycle transportation to and from schools.’’
The Minister of State for Primary Education, Hon. Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, commended the ‘HeadsUp!’ initiative by Vivo Energy Uganda for highlighting this important aspect of road safety for schoolchildren.
“The ‘HeadsUp!’ campaign is a significant step towards ensuring the safety of our children on boda-bodas. We appreciate Vivo Energy’s efforts in raising awareness and encouraging responsible road habits among boda-boda riders and the public,” said Hon. Dr. Kaducu.
“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 at government programmes such as Universal Primary Education. This in turn will support the government’s efforts to scale up the levels of literacy across the nation,” she added.
Road Safety is a key focus area for Vivo Energy, which, on average, operates 300 trucks transporting fuel products every day. The initiatives seek to complement the efforts of key players such as the Ministry of Works and Transport, Uganda Police, and others in a bid to improve current road safety statistics.
The Minister Of State for Primary Education, Dr Joyce Kaducu Moriku has recognized HeadsUp campaign as an innovative initiative for this country because it addresses a previously a gap in road safety that has been largely overlooked by the public.