Leave cars home and walk to avoid non communicable diseases –Minister Kyofatogabye advises


By Zurah Nakabugo

The State Minister for KCCA and Metropolitan Areas Kabuye Kyofatogabye has advised people to leave their cars at home for some days and walk to work to avoid Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) that are caused by being over weight, high cholesterol levels and not doing exercises.

“We have introduced car free day, aimed at informing the public to walk on the streets of Kampala as away of improving their health since many people are dying of NCDs – some of which are  due to air pollution from old cars, motorcycles and also not doing enough exercises like walking,” he said.

Kabuye said, half of Kampala city, which has a population of over one million, was  last Sunday closed to all vehicle users and only opened for pedestrians and cyclists during Kampala “car free day.”

Minister Kabuye during Kampala car free day.

“Kampala is one of the cities in the world with worst air quality. By having a car free day, we are cutting on the level of air pollution, and recognize other road users like People With Disabilities (PWDs), children and pregnant mothers,” he said.

“We are also trying to protect the environment from vehicle emissions which compromise the air quality. We managed to have uncontaminated air free of chemicals that cause lung-related diseases,” Kabuye said.

Research by World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that car and industrial pollution are linked to cancer, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory illnesses such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which impairs lung function and causes lung cancer.

WHO research shows that outdoor urban air pollution, mostly from vehicles and factories, accounts for the premature deaths of 1,340,000 people annually.

According to WHO it like having  55 buses, each carrying 65 passengers crash daily with no survivors. Some studies also show that air pollution is responsible for low birth weight and stillbirths.

.Kabuye  said car free day aims at making streets walk-able and promoting a mindset change towards non-motorised environment in Kampala city .

According to ‘healthline website’, walking can offer numerous health benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels. It may also help prevent certain diseases like hypertension  and even prolong  life.

The site further says walking can help you burn calories which helps in losing weight, strengthens the heart  and  lowers blood sugar.

Winstone Katushabe the Commissioner Transport Regulation and Safety said, walking reduce the risk of heart disease, like high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.

“Walking helps people gain health benefits of fight NCDs like Cancer, pressure and diabetes. It also helps people learn to respect other road users like pedestrians, cyclists, children and pregnant women,” he said.

“ It has been a family day out, people came with their families to exercise and interact with others on the streets, children played in the middle of the roads since vehicles didn’t access the designated car free areas,” Katushabe added.

According to KCCA Deputy Executive Director David Luyimbazi, Kampala car free day aims at encouraging people to walk on the streets as they exercise to curb emissions and air pollution.

He said the event also helps citizens to experience the city in a unique and health way and also promotes road safety since people move freely without threats of cars knocking them.

Joseph Beyanga, a road safety advocate, said the car free day was meant to protect the environment and ensure that road users are protected.

“The day was marked under the theme “road safety and air quality, he said.

Last Sunday, the car free day was held in two cities in Africa which included Uganda and Durban in South Africa.

Other cities also promised to join the same activities next year after being inspired by Kampala in Uganda and Durban in South Africa conducted since it’s a new event.


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