So I’ve been in Kampala a lot recently and one of the things that this place is most famous for is the traffic! Especially if you’ve seen the Top Gear Africa Special, which starts in Kampala.
There are two ways to ‘move’ (as the locals say) around Kampala
- Boda-boda (motorbike)
While driving is the most comfortable, and safest (and my choice most of the time) is is also the slowest and most frustrating. Those of you that sit on the M25 pulling your hair out because you’ve been waiting half an hour….you’ve seen nothing!
The quickest way to travel is on the back of a boda-boda. This however means dicing with death! The video above shows what its like travelling by boda….and also a glimpse of the Kampala traffic
For boda drivers the objective is simple. Do not stop! Ever! So, if you get stuck in traffic you must find a way through it. If you come to a ‘jam’ of cars and a traffic officer has told them to stop, then you must drive behind the traffic officer as he looks the other way. If the road is too busy, then try the pavement! Or off-road!
Can you see why I stick to my car!?
I’ve driven here a lot now and I thought I would share a few of the general rules that apply.
Rule 1. There are no rules!
It is very much every man/woman for themselves. The speed in which you move around depends on two things,
- How much you value the bodywork of your car
- How much you like taking risks
Driving here is like no where else I have ever driven. It is the total opposite from our orderly queuing in the UK where we do everything by the book. Here, the traffic lights are simply for decoration! Its a case of use your common sense and get from A to B as best as you can. In many ways it is total and utter chaos! And most of the time I hate it. But at the same time, I love the freedom of it. Sometimes I wonder if in the West, in an attempt to make the place as safe and orderly as possible, we have overloaded ourselves with rules and regulations which make it a pretty boring place! The same can certainly not be said of life here!