At least 616 people died in road accidents in Malawi in the first quarter of 2020, up from 281 in 2019 and 234 in 2018 during the same period with government calling for concerted efforts from various stakeholders if the country is to make positive strides in reducing road accidents.
Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works, Nancy Mdoko, made the remarks on Saturday at Liwonde Community Centre ground in Machinga during the commemoration of African Road Safety Day under the theme: 'Stop roadside vending, save lives.'
Mdoko said road accidents in the country are alarming and worrisome as they rank ninth on the causes of death in the country.
"In 2019, Malawi witnessed over 10, 000 accidents and in 2018 Malawi had registered 5, 821 road accidents. The statistics indicate that road accidents are rising in the country.
"As such, there is need for all stakeholders and the general public to work together in order to reduce road accidents," she said.
Mdoko expressed sadness that most of the victims are the youth who are energetic and could have contributed positively to the development of the country.
She said the practice of vending along the road is one of the major causes of road accidents as such pleaded with Malawians to stop the malpractice.
Mdoko, therefore, gave an example of the accident which occurred at Kampepuza Trading Centre in Ntcheu District which claimed 17 lives, saying the accident could have been avoided if people were not selling their merchandise along the road.
"Car owners are also contributing to the rise of road accidents because they park their cars along the road when they want to buy goods," she said.
She disclosed that her ministry in collaboration with Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development will relocate all markets that lie along main roads as one way of reducing road accidents.
"We will work with the Ministry of Local Government to demolish all buildings that are built within road reserve as one way of reducing accidents," she added.
In her remarks, Deputy Director of Road Traffic, Annie Kandoje, concurred with Mdoko saying Malawi is registering high numbers of road accidents every year.
Kandoje said from January to June 2019 about 528 accidents occurred which claimed 625 lives.
"In 2020 within the same period of January to June about 570 road accidents have occurred which have claimed 616 lives," she said.
Machinga is one of the districts where roadside vending is rampant.
Machinga District Council Chairperson, Simplex Diwa, bemoaned poor road conditions among other factors contributing to road accidents in the district.
Duwa said the council will continue working hard to deal with street vending as one way of reducing road accidents.
In 2019 Machinga registered 30 accidents which claimed 38 lives.
Among other activities during the commemoration, Mdoko cheered accident survivors at Machinga District Hospital.
In Malawi commemoration of the day started in 2013 following a meeting by African Union (AU) members.