CURB ROAD CARNAGE

ZAMBIANS across all strata of society must pool their resources together to bring down the rising cases of road traffic accidents.
Clearly, the skyrocketing pattern is not only scaring but also shocking in its entirety.
Last year, 1, 989 people were killed in road traffic accidents across the country out of which 900 were pedestrians. This is out of a total number of 30, 163 road traffic accidents recorded throughout the country.
Statistics also indicate that 50 percent of the fatalities are children.
This worrying pattern certainly calls for all Zambians to get involved in one way or the other.
Firstly, it is important to identify some of the prominent causes of fatalities on the roads so that measures can be employed appropriately.
It is a fact that there is crass incompetence among some motorists on the Zambia roads, mostly those plying public service automobiles.
A good number of bus and taxi drivers are not only hasty on the roads but also careless and therefore placing other road users at risk.
This is the segment of motorists full of individuals who initially were engaged as conductors and “migrated” to being drivers without mastering the skill of driving.
They hastily get public service vehicle drivers’ licences from the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) and start plying public roads.
In that way, they are entrusted with the lives of the passengers on their buses, yet they are not competent enough.
Secondly, some people get on the roads with un-roadworthy vehicles while in other instances, motorists drive their vehicles under the influence of alcohol.
Thirdly, a poor road network is also a major cause of traffic accidents.
However, Government has rolled out an ambitious road infrastructure upgrade which will not only make travelling safer but also shorten some of the winding routes particularly in the countryside.
This is preventive measure number one.
The second is the introduction of the modern road safety management system, which is being piloted on some selected stretches in Lusaka. This system must be extended to all parts of the country.
Public transport providers must also ensure that they employ competent drivers who must be subjected to regular re-testing to ensure compliance and requisite skill on public roads.
RTSA should be equipped with modern facilities while staff levels equally require boosting.
RTSA faces challenges in enforcing 206 traffic rules enshrined under the Road Traffic Act because of limited number of enforcement officers.
It will be ideal to employ more enforcement and other officers at RTSA to strictly monitor and regulate the situation on public roads.
Statistics show that highly populated areas are prone to accidents.
For instance, Lusaka Province recorded the highest number of accidents at 15, 977 last year with 474 deaths while Western Province recorded the lowest number at 546 with 61 persons killed.
Copperbelt had 4, 874 accidents in which 434 people were killed, Central Province recorded 2, 066 with 316 deaths while Southern had 1, 757 with 170 people killed.
In Eastern Province 1, 586 road traffic accidents occurred with 155 deaths, North Western Province had 1, 322 where 82 died.  Muchinga had 730 with 106 persons killed while Luapula recorded 710 with 71 deaths. Northern Province had 595 accidents with 120 people killed.
Out of 1, 989 persons killed last year, 203 were children; 123 boys and 80 girls, all below the age of 16.
Therefore, we agree with Transport and Communications Permanent Secretary Misheck Lungu who outrightly insisted on Monday that there is urgent need for change in drivers’ attitude and behaviour on the roads.
This will to a large extent change the pattern of confusion on roads and ultimately the curb road carnage.

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