The Herald (Harare)

19 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Motorists Urged to Exercise Caution

Motorists and the entire nation must exercise extreme caution as the festive season approaches, Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development Minister Nicholas Goche yesterday urged. Speaking at the commemoration of World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims at the Harare Gardens, Minister Goche said the vision behind it all was to create awareness on the escalating road carnage.

The commemorations were running under the theme "Road Tears from Global Remembrance to Action Across the Decade."

The commemorations will run under this theme from this year to 2020.

"We have a war to end the trauma and deaths caused by road crashes. In this regard I call for partnership with organised labour, business, the religious community and civil societies to end this scourge," said Minister Goche.

He said it was a battle for the entire nation to be absolutely responsible and conscious to transform a good image in terms of road traffic horrors.

"It is not in our interests for these tragedies to continue, so all of us must unite to end them," said Minister Goche.

"Each of us could be the next victim if we do not choose to take immediate preventive measures."

He said statistics of road accidents were shocking considering the rate at which they were happening.

"In Zimbabwe there are 28 deaths per every 10 000 registered vehicles and there is a traffic collision every 15 minutes with an average of 45 people getting injured per day while on average five people are killed per day. Friday and Saturday nights and the festive season are the worst times," Minister Goche said.

Also speaking at the same occasion, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said roads have claimed some 1,2 million lives and injured more than 50 million people every year.

In a speech read on his behalf by Dr Jabulani Mahoso, a medical doctor at Harare Central Hospital, the UN boss said around 90 percent of road traffic deaths and injuries occurred in low-and -middle-income countries and most of victims were pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

"Many of them are now condemned to enduring physical disabilities and psychological trauma for the rest of their days," Ban Ki-moon said.

He said it was everybody's responsibility to minimise road traffic deaths and injuries as part of the quest for an equitable and sustainable future.

"The World Health Organisation warns that without urgent action, road traffic injuries will become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030," he said.

Commenting on the sidelines of the commemorations, managing director of Traffic Safety Council, Mr Obio Chinyere said 85 percent of road accidents were caused by human error.

"Use of cellphones while driving, unnecessary overtaking, driving without seat belts and drinking while driving are some of the unnecessary but avoidable human errors which cause accidents.

"The aim of this day is to raise awareness and urge the public to make their lives and others a major concern," he said.

National Traffic spokesperson Assistant Inspector Tigere Chigome said motorists had a role to play since they would be in charge of other people's lives.

"Commemorations like this give us a picture and an idea and conscientise us on the dangers of road accidents. At the moment we have measures in place to assist those who lost their families especially breadwinners to get access to education and the programme is being spearheaded by Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri," he said.

People from different walks of life, and organisations and the Christian community converged to commemorate the day.

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