Mrs. Amanda Ngabirano, a Lecturer at the University of Makerere, Kampala, Uganda has identified road safety and environmental degradation among the major challenges of urban mobility in the continent.
Ngabirano said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the ongoing Africa Sustainable Urban Mobility Course, organised in collaboration with various transport growth initiatives in Abuja.
The programme has as its theme “Building the Capacity of Stakeholders towards Urban Mobility Reform in Africa.’’
“The challenges have to do with road safety; we have increased motorisation rate, road expansions, expressways and more people driving cars, which is putting other road users at a risk.
‘`On average, 60 per cent of the population in our cities is a working population, and we are forgetting them in terms of walkways, cycle lanes and public transport.
“We are also having a challenge of environmental degradation as a result of motorisation.
“This is a big issue as it also leads to air pollution, noise pollution and disappearance of green cover among others, in our cities,’’ she said.
On what needs to be done to tackle the issue, Ngabirano said we (Africans) must plan for the people not for the cars.
She explained that the city must be operated in a balanced system, such that if there is a car network, it should be able to flow, without traffic congestion.
She said, “If it is a bus system, it should function in a good way and we should prioritise our investment in terms of roads.
‘`Let’s invest in people who are working, who are using public transport and we shall attract people who are driving cars into this system of public transport.
“For now, it is not attractive to move with our public transport systems in most cities and this leads to having a high motorisation rate in the cities which is a problem.’’
According to the don, most economic growth starts with our cities and this growth comes with mobility needs and demands.
She said, “Right now, Africa is faced with an average of five per cent growth rate for urban population and this really means a lot for city planners, housing sector and sanitation.
“That means that we are going to face a rapid change in terms of how we move.
‘`We are having a lot of motorisation rate and increased car use in our cities because the demand to move is so high,” she declared.