The Uganda Police has sounded the alarm over the danger its traffic officers are subjected to everyday as they work on the road, inhaling exhausts from the old cars most of which are poorly serviced.
The acting Traffic Police Director ,CP Lawrence Niwabiine, on Friday told a group of journalists and university researchers that as police, they are concerned and worried about the health of their personnel who execute their daily duties in an environment that exposes them to the polluted air.
Niwabiine appealed to the Makerere University School of Public Health researchers to quickly conduct a study on the health challenges to be faced by their personnel deployed on roads to enforce traffic rules amidst the harmful air polluted by the old vehicles driven by members of the public.
This, according to the commissioner, would provide the police with scientific evidence to push for resources to protect the officers from what they already know, that they are being continuously subjected to dangerous emissions which are now a leading cause of death.
Niwabiine admits it may not be possible to completely avoid the exposure to pollution due to the nature of their job; however, they need to find a way to minimize the risks to the officers with support of the health scientists.
According to the World Health Organization -WHO) 2019 report, Uganda’s capital is the third most polluted of African cities. The air in Kampala is six times above the safe levels as set by WHO.
The same report highlights that pollution is one of the key silent killers around the world, estimating that seven million people die annually as a result of living with polluted air.
In Uganda, over 40,000 people die because of lengthy exposure to mainly vehicle fumes. This is ten times more that the people who die in accidents on the road. Uganda imports mostly very old cars that are at the end of their life in other countries.
The diseases that come with the exposure to the polluted air include asthma, heart disease and lung cancer.
Makerere University researchers at the meeting agreed that it is important to support the traffic police given the long hours they spend on roads under the polluted environment.
Phd Doctors including Dr Olive Kobusingye and Dr Lynn Atuyambe confirmed that the School of Public Health has already done a research that found that there are very high levels of pollution along the roads in Uganda that needs to be addressed.
The Uganda Police deploys over 2,000 officers deployed on roads every day enforce the traffic rules for road safety. If they are not transferred to other police units, they will certainly be adversely affected and their life shortened.
Unless something is done about the country’s reliance on old vehicles that emit dangerous exhaust.
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