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    For months, the virus put the world under house arrest, some sort of homebound prison. Well, everyone was affected but in the mobility sector who needed to travel the most?
    The biggest percentage of travellers are estimated to be below the age 40, with the age range of 18 to 30 still the highest; That age being most active, most restless, most productive in the economic sector and with the most demanding zeal to be everywhere and do everything every time. The mere fact that they take majority in the world population means they will dominate in presence anywhere at anytime except for restricted places and specific occasions.

    Young people travel for different reasons ranging from business, education and study tours, corporate and official duty, tourism, sports, individual research activities and many others like family and friend visits, religious crusades, entertainment and recreation, etc. In Uganda for instance, Transport systems got greatly affected from the onset of partial lockdown with great changes in mobility systems and a super hike in transport fares which saw passengers paying upto 100 percent increment in the charges from the original rates for respective destinations. But, are these hikes realistic to a youth traveler looking for survival in a poor economy and with no stable source of income?
    Considering exorbitant travel rates, can one earn from what they are travelling for unless it is a matter of death and life?

    Well First, for the case of Uganda (and many other African countries) there are no standard billing systems, and governments have very little control (if any) over transport charges and transport systems and still the little voice they may have is most likely to be silenced with bribery of the officials concerned.
    The reason for the high charges was meant to be for the compensation of the seats that are left empty in the effort to maintain social distance while traveling, but in most cases passengers get to pay higher fares and are still crowded in the vehicle to capacity and sometimes beyond.
    Secondly, there are no proper safety monitoring systems ensured in the transport and mobility systems to ensures strict safety standards drivers and conductors only organizes passengers when they approach or encounter a traffic officer. This makes the control of spread of the virus difficult.

    While there are conditional circumstances where one must travel, the risk of transmission of COVID-19 increases as one cannot be constantly careful throughout the journey which sometimes takes over 300kms.

    Recently, Ugandan authorities reported a 4th stage of community transmission of the virus but unfortunately never came out with the strategies to cab the transmission. These makes travellers remains at risk of virus transmission, economic breakdown, poor health safety and vulnerability to the pandemic.
    It should be remembered that the vulnerability of the youth in this situation goes beyond road safety and COVID-19, when they are affected, several other social and governance systems are affected too.

    The youth needs to be supported and valued for a safer future since they are the bigger portion of the population count, most active in mobility and socializing grounds and the symptoms of infection takes longer in them since they have stronger immunity. As the infection from the virus continues to soar, the best way to ensure safety of travelers would be to disinfect the mobility systems, employ health workers and traffic officers at bus and taxi stations to monitor behaviours and ensure all SOPs are strictly followed while on board. There is no point in hiking the fares if the SOPs cannot be followed, otherwise why the economic burden if lives of travellers still remains at risk with even an increased chances of infection. Tanzania has had everything running normally though out the period of "world lockdown" and surely they have lived just by observing strict policies on restrictions and SOPs to avoid transmissions of the virus and it worked for them.

    There are always opportunities for improvement and to discover better ways, travelers should also ensure their own safety and speak up louder with confidence when the SOPs are being violated.
    If only the regulations were adhered to, systems monitored properly and the safety standards were kept at all points, may be we would be moving towards a reduced burden of infection or even eliminating the virus sooner.

    As the governments play their role, people must also have both a joined and individual responsibilities and commit to it inorder to ensure safe travels and reduced rate of transmission of COVID-19. This will help economic activities return to normal without a burden. One thing for sure, is that there is always a need for one to travel.]]

    Brian Odama
    Road safety advocate
    Member; Global Youth Coalition For Roadsafety
    Certified driver trainer
    Brian is 4years experience researcher of road use behaviours in Uganda and Kenya with several reports that has helped the governments make informed decisions on roadsafety.
    He has attended several road safety trainings including the World Bank OLC Road Safety Courses, IRF![alt text](image url) trainings and more.****

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