22 January 2013

Zambia: Road Carnage - Barrier to Growth

ROAD traffic accidents in Zambia have continued to claim human lives at a worrying rate, standing out as the third highest cause of death after HIV/AIDS and malaria.

This is a sad state of affairs which requires a steadfast approach through a neatly-prepared blueprint.

Accidents have continued to claim valuable lives and rich human resource which could be utilised in the country's growth agenda. It has proved to be one of the major barriers to economic and social growth.

On Sunday, two people died in Ndola opposite the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium when the driver lost control while in Eastern Province three people perished.

While a number of awareness campaigns in various forms have been mounted, road carnage continues on the upswing particularly on highways due to several factors.

One of the reasons is the poor state of the road network which has deteriorated over a long period of time.

Numerous motorists have died in the process of avoiding potholes while others have lost their lives after hitting into depressions.

In other instances, accidents have occurred as a result of faulty automobiles that ply the road network while eluding police and Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) officers in various check-points.

Thirdly, some motorists use vehicles that are not roadworthy when they are alive to the fact that they must only use them when they are in good condition. They know too that they must regularly service their vehicles.

It is also true that careless driving is a major cause of road traffic accidents in which mini-bus and taxi drivers are leading culprits.

A good number of mini bus and taxi drivers are always in a hurry and rarely observe traffic rules or the 10 basic rules of driving.

One of the basic rules which public transport drivers continue to ignore with impunity is: 'Exercise patience and hang back when necessary.'

These drivers do not wait nor observe the flow of traffic when joining the road from any point. They would rather motorists on the main road reduce speed to allow them join carelessly.

It is clear in these rules that one ought to drive fast only in the right places.

Some mini bus and taxi drivers do not use the horn considerately and neither do they give proper signals. They continue hooting at regular intervals as a way of calling for more passengers.

Recently, RTSA chief executive officer, Zindaba Soko said more than 1,200 people die from road traffic accidents every year.

Of the 1,200 people killed in accidents at least 50 per cent are pedestrians.

Statistics also indicate that 30 per cent of the pedestrians killed are children of school going age

Additionally, Mr Soko noted that Zambia spends about KR1 million on mitigating the impact of road accidents, an amount which could be avoided and ultimately used on other needy areas.

RTSA has thus engaged various stakeholders among them the Zambia Police Service, Ministry of Health, Road Development Agency(RDA) and motorists to come up with recommendations on how best to establish a Road Accident Fund.

Motorists and other stakeholders should look at RTSA as a partner and an important body in road traffic management whose services they must utilise.

There is a wrong notion that RTSA officers at check points are there to spoil errands by motorists. No.

This important Government institution is there to implement policy on road transport, traffic management and road safety.

Motorists must follow rules to avoid road carnage.

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