The 14 cost of commercial motorcycle accidents in Uganda
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Understanding the cost of the road traffic accidents (RTAs) has been of interest to many scholars and policy makers for a long time. In Uganda like many developing countries in Africa, injuries due to motorcycle accidents represent a major but often neglected emerging public health problem and contribute significantly to the overall road traffic injuries. This research study therefore explored the costs of motorcycle accidents and the pain, grief and sufferings of the motorcycle accident victims using a multi-method approach. Unlike many studies on cost of accidents which use the traditional human capital approach, this study in addition to the human capital approach, applied the Willingness-to-pay (WTP) approach to estimate the cost of motorcycle accidents. WTP method was used to estimate the value that boda boda riders would pay for reducing the risk of loss of life based on Contingent Valuation (CV) method. We extend the analysis to also explore the key coping mechanisms adopted by the Boda- boda riders amidst the challenges the riders face when they suffer motorcycle accidents. The data were obtained from multiple sources, including a survey of 1600 boda boda cyclists in Kawempe and Central divisions in Kampala City, interviews with accident victims and their immediate family members, traffic police records, hospitals and national statistics on selected economic aggregates. The results show that motorcycle accidents are associated with huge economic and non-economic burden borne by the accident victims and the society as a whole. The study established that it costs approximately 7 million shillings (or 2800 USD) to treat a boda boda accident victim who is severely injured. Based on annual police statistics on motorcycle accidents for 2012; the Ugandan economy losses more than UGX 3 billion (1.2m USD) value of output due to days away from productive work as result of severe injuries and death. Likewise, the cost of motorcycle repairs amounted to UGX 350 million (140,000 USD). The study also estimated the value of preventing motorcycle accidents. The estimates show that on average boda boda riders are willing to pay Ug Shs 222,550 (89 USD) a year for a reduction in mortality risks associated with motorcycle accidents that translate into UGX 4.45 billion (US$1.78m), the value of statistical life (VOSL). Overall, the combined economic burden of the motorycle accidents (repairs, medical costs, lost output and imputed cost of pain grief and suffering) were estimated to be approximately US$ 3.6 million annually. This cost is about 0.02% of Uganda’s GDP in 2013. The key policy implication of the study is that reducing motorcycle causalities and fatalities will reduce social and economic sufferings of victims, unlock growth and free resources for more productive use. The findings provide the cost-benefit analysis of any investment in areas that will promote the prevention, treatment, care and management of motorcycle accidents in Uganda.