Are Ugandan Road Accident Deaths On The Rise?

The Ministry of Transport and police disagree about whether increasing numbers of people are dying on Ugandan roads. We check the facts.

Uganda’s Ministry of Works and Transport claims in its 2016/17 Annual Report that 9,572 people died in road accidents in the country over the past three years. The report shows that deaths on the road are on the rise, despite interventions by the police and Uganda National Roads Authority to curb accidents.

The Uganda Police Force has not publicly released an Annual Crime and Traffic/Road Safety Report since 2013, but police spokesman for Uganda’s Traffic and Road Safety Directorate, Charles Ssebambulidde, told the Daily Monitor that their own data showed a decrease in road accident fatalities.

So, the question is, has the number of Ugandans who have died in road accidents gone up or down over the past three years?

PesaCheck has researched the issue and finds that the Transport Ministry’s claim that road accident fatalities have increased over the past three years is TRUE for the following reasons:

Official data published by the Government of Uganda shows that there have been fewer accidents overall in the country, but the number of people dying in these accidents has gone up.

The Ministry of Works and Transport notes that reports from Uganda Police indicate that by the end of December 2016, a total of 14,474 road traffic crashes had been recorded which is a decrease from 18,495 crashes recorded in 2015.

However, the fatalities (number of people dying as a result of these accidents) increased from 3,224 to 3,503 persons over the same period and the trend has been the same for the last 5 years.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 Statistical Abstract Report records similar numbers given by the Ministry Report in 2014 and 2015, and thereby corroborating the claim.

However, due to the fact that the Police have not released official reports over how many people in the country have died as a result of road accidents over the past three years, the Global status report on road safety 2015 categorises Uganda under countries without eligible death registration data.

A review of five years of data on road traffic accidents shows that 22,272 road traffic incidents were reported in 2011, 19,870 in 2012 and 18,368 cases in 2013. By December 2016, a total of 14,474 road traffic crashes had been recorded which is a decrease from 18,495 crashes recorded in 2015. Over the same period, the number of people dying as a result of these accidents increased from 3,224 to 3,503 persons, an upward trend that has persisted over five years.

That means that the Ugandan Ministry of Works and Transport’s claim and the subsequent article noting that more than 9,000 people have died in accidents since 2013 is TRUE. Based on the Ministry’s annual report, which collects data from police incident reporting, there have been fewer accidents overall, but more fatalities.

This means that the Police Spokesman’s claim of fewer fatalities could be based on the first part of this statement, but the complete picture shows that more action needs to be taken to reduce the number of fatalities experienced on Ugandan roads.

Do you want us to fact-check something a politician or other public figure has said about public finances? Write to us on any of the contacts below, and we’ll help ensure you’re not getting bamboozled.

This report was written by Emma Laura Kisa, a Ugandan data journalist and multimedia specialist. The infographics are by PesaCheck Fellow Brian Wachanga, who is a Kenyan civic technologist interested in data visualisation. This report was edited by PesaCheck managing editor Eric Mugendi.

PesaCheck, co-founded by Catherine Gicheru and Justin Arenstein, is East Africa’s first public finance fact-checking initiative. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of so-called ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ or SDG public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. To find out more about the project, visit

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PesaCheck is an initiative of Code for Africa, through its local Code for Uganda chapter, in partnership with a coalition of local media organisations, with additional support from the International Center for Journalists(ICFJ).

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