Death is on the road


Traveling on the roads of Malawi these days is a big risk, especially long distances along the M1 Road and other roads due to frequent accidents.

The roads have become a death trap for many. Every year, thousands of lives are lost due to these accidents.

Bertha Chisoni travels between Blantyre and Lilongwe every week. Her family lives in Lilongwe but she works in Blantyre. She is now a woman engulfed with fear.


“I used to visit my family in Lilongwe every weekend but due to these accidents, I am afraid to do that. Now, I visit them once a month.

“I am always afraid each time I am travelling to Lilongwe. This is because I am not sure whether I will reach home safely because almost every day, lives are being lost through road accidents,” Chisoni says.

On June 10 this year, a terrible accident involving a bus occurred between Chingeni and Manjawira along the M1 Road where 10 people died while more than 40 escaped with injuries.


Two days later, another accident happened in Blantyre along the Magalasi Road where a track of cement swept away cars killing four people in the process.

Available statistics show an increase in number of road accidents in the first six months of this year compared to last year.

Initially, 351 fatal accidents have been recorded in the first six months of this year compared to 331 in 2016 within the same period, representing a six percent increase, according to deputy national police spokesperson Thomeck Nyaude.

The increase in road accidents has equally translated into increase in loss of life.

A total of 927 deaths have been registered this year while last year, 806 lives were lost in the first six months,

But what are the factors contributing to these accidents?

Firstly, Nyaude says, is over-speeding.

“Most cars drive beyond speed limit and a majority of drivers drive under influence of alcohol,” he says.

Secondly, is a general lack of responsibility in Malawians by tolerating to board passenger vehicles beyond capacity.

Theories about the contributing factors to the carnage on our roads could be many but the practical result is still scary, death to innocent lives.

So what is being done to eliminate this monster?

Nyaude says police has increased traffic patrols but it is in punitive measures that efforts have been heightened.

In courts, there are now using already available custodial sentences instead of fine paying sentences.

In May this year, the Monkey Bay Magistrate’s Court in Mangochi sentenced a 42-year-old driver to 32 months imprisonment with hard labour after failing to pay a fine of K1 million for reckless driving that resulted in deaths of five people.

“The sentences from the courts are high and some have been sent to jail. This is one way of bringing sanity among motor vehicle drivers,” Nyaude says.

He adds that people should learn to fear and respect the law and not the police.

“The police are only there to enforce the law and if we choose to break the law, the results are these increasing numbers of deaths.”

Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) National Secretary, Coxley Kamange, calls for a collective approach and responsibility in reducing the number of road accidents.

He says his organisation has, on several occasions, proposed measures to be undertaken by the government, including Parliament. One of the proposals was a call to government to waive or reduce duty on passenger vehicle tyres.

“But up to know nothing is being done. People continue to use substandard tyres which are risky and usually burst,” Kamange says.

Another measure taken by the association to bring order in the minibus sector is by keeping a database of drivers.

“This database will help to monitor their performance and behaviour,” he says, adding that they are also encouraging members to maintain their vehicles and keep them in good running conditions.

However, Roads Authority spokesperson, Portia Kajanga, says that so far they have not received any report attributing recent accidents to poor conditions of roads.

“Normally when there is an accident, we receive police reports which indicate the causes of the accidents.

“So far, the reports we have received do not point to the state of roads as contributing factor,” Kajanga says.

Whatever reasons may be spawned by authorities and people alike, but for individuals like Chisoni, the fact remains that there is death on the road and that its shadow is always looming large whenever people travel.

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