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AGGREY NSHEKANABO: Trekking 80km to Jinja to raise money for artificial limbs

Fueled by the desire to provide walking devices for those without limbs, I joined a group of over 30 compassionate walkers and cyclists for an 80-kilometre trek to Jinja.

This journey, fraught with physical exertion and emotional resilience, was more than a mere trek; it was a testament to the power of human determination and collective action.

A total of 20 fellow walkers and 13 bold cyclists gathered at the Uganda General Post Office in Kampala on Saturday, 6th April 2024, Among the riders was Alex Munyambabazi, an amputee, a beacon of inspiration and fortitude.  At 6:00 am, the cyclists, were flagged off for the arduous journey, riding.

Simultaneously, the walkers set forth; their footsteps echoing the rhythm of determination. By 11:00 am, the cyclists had conquered the formidable distance, reaching Jinja’s main post office after traversing 82 kilometres of treacherous Jinja road.

Meanwhile, at 11:00 am, the swiftest walkers were nearing Namawojjolo, their pace a testament to the unwavering perseverance and 30km having fallen beneath their determined strides.

Yet, amidst their triumphant progress, adversity loomed large. Between Bweyogerere and Seeta, motorists were driving on the road shoulders. Traffic was heaviest between Wantoni corner and Mbalala. Deep gulleys cut deep in what would be pedestrian walkways. This slowed down the walking team.

As the group took a turn around Mbalala towards Namawojjolo, the heavens let loose and a short shower poured from the skies. We registered the first casuality; a one Migisha sprained his ankle. Thanks to an ambulance provided by KCCA, he was immediately attended to for first aid.

Some of the riders to Jinja on the road safety awareness campaign

At Namawojjolo, more dropouts occurred due to fatigue or other unforeseen obstacles. Yet, through it all, the spirit of solidarity remained unyielding. Five of my walking buddies ended their walk at Namawojjolo. When they dropped off, I could only add on another 7km to Namagunga, yet my target was to at least walk 45km to Lugazi town.

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At about 8:30pm, the first two walkers; Annet Ayesiga and Herbert Kanyali reached Jinja main post office 15 hours later! At 10:30pm, another group that included Alex Biryomumeisho, Miriam Taremwa and Kenneth Asiimwe with their pacesetter, Joseph Beyanga a.k.a Joe Walker arrived. Another group that included Ronald Tusingwire, Racheal Kimani, John Sembogo and Hakim Nkosi arrived just after midnight.

The trek to Jinja was more than a physical feat; it was a platform to amplify the message of road safety and resilience. As Alex Munyambabazi, the the leader of Amputees Self-Help Network Uganda (ASNU), remarked;

“The 80-kilometre walk between Kampala and Jinja embodies the stark reality of Uganda’s road safety crisis. Jinja road has the worst road environment considering the amount of traffic it hosts. It does not have easy and safe walkways;

“We chose this road stretch because it has the highest number of motorists at any given time but also to put a spotlight on the Jinja road as the most uneven and deadliest highway stretch with the highest traffic in Uganda; claiming thousands of people”

Kenneth Asiimwe, the Team leader at the Pedrine Prosthetics Accessibility Fund (PPAF), echoed Munyambabazi’s sentiments, citing the disturbing statistics of Uganda’s road fatalities. With every passing day, he lamented, lives were needlessly lost, families shattered, and communities scarred by the devastating consequences of road accidents. 

The walk to Jinja, he emphasised, was not merely a symbolic gesture; it was a call for action—a rallying cry for safer roads.

According to the Uganda Police Force Report 2021, 4,159 Ugandans died due to road accidents and another 12,589 were seriously injured. Uganda is ranked No.6 in the world as road accidents account for about 7% of the total deaths registered. Pedestrians and cyclists account for over 50% of people killed by road accidents. In Sub Saharan Africa, pedestrians account for 44% of road deaths and, since 1990, deaths due to road injuries have risen by 84%. 

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Alex Munyambabazi engages traffic officers during the walk/ride to Jinja

Asiimwe asserts that there is cause for worry. Ugandans drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol. They text while driving and; there is compromised visibility between Mukono and Njeru. The road is poorly paved and any time, it can rain and Ugandans are not trained to drive in the rain. 

It is for this reason that individuals such as Herbert Kanyali walked the gruelling 80km to Jinja hoisting the road safety flag and Mr. Joseph Beyanga, who for 45km was the pacesetter for the walkers to Jinja through Lugazi town and Mabira Forest has taken it upon himself as a lifetime call to raise awareness on road safety.

The walkers and riders vowed to continue their crusade for road safety, one step at a time, until every Ugandan could walk the roads without fear of being the road accident victim but also those without limbs could get artificial ones. For this year, money for at least 04 artificial limbs was raised during the walk.

 

The post AGGREY NSHEKANABO: Trekking 80km to Jinja to raise money for artificial limbs appeared first on Watchdog Uganda.

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