Hoverboards in Uganda: Are our roads and laws ready for them?

Hoverboards in uganda

When new technology is ushered into the masses, we trust Ugandans for quickly jumping onto the bandwagon, in a few months time get ready to see  hoverboards in Uganda become a common sight on our roads. For those of you who have watched movies like the 1989 Back to the Future II, it was predicted that by 2015, people will be traveling on levitating boards for personal transportation, and that vision has now manifested itself in a new product called the Hoverboard. The most silly thing about the name is that the board doesn’t even hover over the ground at all, at least in its current form it’s more like an electric skateboard. Just like the way drones in Uganda became popular,  hoverboard have made their cameo into local music videos. But, with the many vehicles, boda bodas and bicycle cyclist populating the city, are our roads and laws ready for Hoverboards?

Hoverboards are the future of walking. And, apart from making us more lazy, the issue is that it is more of an imbalanced road privilege to effort ratio. What do I mean? Like driving a car or a boda-boda you have to have a license for it, so you have road privilege and all that, biking is hard– it is a physical activity, and if you walk you are using some effort. With a Hoverboard, you are basically dragging yourself on a motorized wheeled apparatus with a no effort involved and also with a high probability of falling in our potholes or running over people, you basically look like a schmendrick on wheels.

Our laws should try to keep up with technology

Hoverboards in uganda music video
Hoverboards now is use in local music videos (Irene Ntale-Gwe aliko)

We don’t have laws that take hoverboards into consideration, and we need to introduce some that try to keep up with technology. We believe our politicians should introduce a bill in both the local town City Councils and the state legislature to exempt hoverboards from being classified as motorized vehicles or “electric personal mobility assistive devices.” Instead, they would be granted their own separate category, which would allow the government to create new rules regarding safety and when and where the soon to be popular devices could be used.  Because hoverborads and electric unicycles fall in the same category and are neither cars nor motorbikes, so new law proposals should not classify these devices in the same category as a ‘motor vehicle’ under state law. Alternatively they could be banned from Kampala roads until our road network is safe enough for them to be used.

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The traffic laws need to be revised to allow for the use of hover boards and electric unicycles in limited spaces. Personally I remain dubious about legalizing their use on Ugandan streets and sidewalks. The new rules should require all hoverboard users to use helmets, limit speeds to 50 kph, and prohibit anyone under 16 from riding a hoverboard.

With new technology comes new problems, just like the advent of boda bodas increased road accidents,  we shall hear increased cases of confiscations, explosions, and broken wrists. So, do you think government should legalize personal transportation devices like Hoverboards in Uganda?