Can I use any ngombe (horn) on my car or bicycle?

Have you ever been on a Boda Boda and you heard the ngombe of a truck behind you sounding like it’s about to run you down only to another Boda Boda passing you by? It is such a stressful and annoying experience that it may lead you to wonder whether that is even legal.

Should a bajaj drive around with the ngombe (horn) of a bus? After all, it’s very stressful and misleading and can lead you and other people to panic which can cause accidents.

After one of our lawyers went through that situation on her way to work, we decided to look into whether there are any restrictions on the types of sounds drivers can use while on the road.


First, we had to find the law that governs driving on the road.
The main law that governs activities on our roads is The Traffic and Road Safety Act of 1998. This law was passed by the Parliament of Uganda and has been in effect ever since. In accordance with this law, some regulations have been made to cater for many of the small details about how the roads can be used what types of vehicles can be used on the roads, etc.

One of these regulations (cited as SI 361-10) has got the requirements for ngombe and other instruments that make noise on the road.

It is a requirement that every motor vehicle (this includes motorcycles) have a ngombe which can give a warning that can be heard of its approach or position. However, there are certain noise-making instruments which can only be used by some specific vehicles and these are:

1. Bells and gongs can only be carried by vehicles used for the fire brigade, ambulance or police purposes
2. Sirens must only be used for fire brigade or police purposes.

The same law bans the use of these instruments just for the purpose of making noise or being a nuisance.
Please note that if you break these rules it is considered an offense.


There is no law specifically saying that this ngombe is for a bus and this one is for a Boda Boda, so we must let that one go.

What do you think about conduct on our roads? Are you aware of all the things drivers and passengers are allowed and not allowed to do on the road? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Barefoot Lawyers- Uganda.



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