Rwanda, yesterday, joined the rest of the continent to mark the ‘Africa Road Safety Day,’ which was set aside to raise awareness against one of the leading causes of death in the world.
Road accidents, according to World Health Organization (WHO), rank 8th among the leading cause of death globally, with an estimated 1.2 million lives lost every year. Majority 60 percent of the accidents occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This year’s continental event marked every third Sunday of November was also set aside in remembrance of road traffic victims and to bring different stakeholders together in raising awareness to prevent fatalities.
It was held under the theme “Road Safety is a concern for us all.” The day coincided with the bi-monthly city-wide fitness day dubbed ‘Car Free Day’ but also marked the official launch of ‘Road Safety Week’ that will be held under the theme: “Let’s Strive for Adequate Road Safety.”
While addressing thousands of people at RRA ground in Kimihurura, the State Minister in charge of Transport, Eng. Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye said that “roads are built to facilitate growth not to kill people.”
“When people die in accidents, it’s not only the motorist or passenger who is affected; the country loses its human labour and spends more money to rehabilitate the destroyed public infrastructure instead of expanding such infrastructures or channeling the funds to other development activities,” Eng. Uwihanganye said.
He added: “Be the first to prevent that accident by telling the motorist to regulate speed or report such deadly behaviours to Police. By doing so, you will have saved that child from being an orphan and that parent from losing a child.”
Measures against accidents
The State Minister said the new law on road safety is current in its final stages and that is specifies stringent penalties to different violators of traffic rules and regulations.
“The new law provides steps through which a driver’s license can be withdrawn from an errant motorist, imprisonment for any motorist found drunk, high on illicit drugs and using a phone, but also penalties to a pedestrian whose inappropriate use of road result into accident or loss of lives” he said.
Eng. Uwihanganye also said that all commercial motorcycles will be fitted with GPS by June next year to help in controlling their reckless behaviours. This, he said, will help the police to trace riders that violate traffic rules.
There are over 60, 000 commercial motorcycles across the country. With the GPS, it is easier to trace a motorcycle in question or lock it.
Motorcycles account for majority 56 percent of the causes or involved in all accidents recorded between January and September this year, followed by pedestrians with 50 percent and bicycles at 36 percent.
Accidents caused or involving pedestrians are high in Southern Province while those involving bicycles are high in Northern Province.
Overall, fatalities reduced by 20 percent from 549 cases in last year’s first nine months to 437 cases in the same period this year. Road accidents kill at least two people every day. Majority accidents occur between Friday and Monday.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza appealed to all Rwandans to “give road security the weight it deserves to prevent loss of lives.”
He said the reduction in accident was largely due to the installation of speed governors in cargo and passenger service vehicles, which previously used to be the majority involved in accidents.
“Majority of the accidents are preventable because they are largely caused by human behavior. Over speeding, driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs, or using a phone… these are some of the major causes of accidents which once stopped lives lost everyday can be saved,” IGP Munyuza said.
Between January and September this year, a total of 7,034 drivers were caught overtaking in dangerous places; 6,841 were found driving while using the phone; 1,404 for over speeding; while 1, 064 drivers were drunk.
“If you are drunk or tired don’t driver or ride. Remember, lives of passengers are in your hands without forgetting that there are also other people using the same road.”
The Police Chief also appealed to passengers to report drivers whose actions might lead to accidents by calling toll-free lines 112 for emergency, 113 for road traffic, 0788311110, 0788311126 and 0788311012 as well as other Police contacts in districts.
Road Safety Week
The Road Safety Week scheduled to end on November 23, will also see awareness campaign conducted among all sects of road users such as pedestrians, drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists, meeting with transporters, visiting and supporting accident victims in hospitals, repainting and creating new Zebra Crossings across the country, among others.
The Express News