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Why Ugandan women have been barred from occupying trucks’ front seats

Women in Northern Uganda have been discouraged from occupying front seats in the trucks of local transporting companies because they end up distracting the drivers.

Speaking to BBC Africa, Bernard Anyieko, an official of Lira Transporters Sacco said that road accidents were as a result of women sitting in the front seats of the trucks.

“Some of them go to the market in search of husbands so when they sit in front sometimes, they sit in a way that attracts the driver’s attention,” Anyieko explained.

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The by-law was introduced because of a traffic accident in Lira that claimed nine lives.

“The driver was speeding and overtook another vehicle at the wrong place, and the vehicle overturned. They said that the reason the vehicle overturned was because the driver was going around with his girlfriend. He was trying to show he can drive well and then that’s the time he lost control and the vehicle overturned,” Mathias Okwi, a regional traffic officer said, while recalling the incident.

However, activists have opposed the by-law saying it is uncalled for and certainly not factual.

“They should have done concrete research to ascertain the actual facts rather than generalise the whole issue to say that women are the ones causing distraction,” said Dorothy Amuron, who is and activist.

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“It’s a fact that sex work or sex trade is always common in Lira so chances are high that its actually the truck drivers who are getting into transactional sex and tagging the sex workers along with them as they drive,” she added.

Similar concerns have been raised by top officials of the Ugandan government, including Minister for Works and Transport, Winstone Katushabe.

“Banning a woman from the front seat, makes no sense. I think such a law should be challenged. Even our constitution in Uganda is against any form of discrimination,” the minister said.

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