Expert weighs in on road accidents


By Alick Ponje 

A road safety expert has singled out inadequate training for drivers as the major cause of accidents occurring on Malawi’s roads.

Several fatal accidents have been registered in some parts of the country with various suggestions coming up as causes of the tragedies.


According to Abdul Osman, of Roadnetic—a firm that imparts knowledge and skills on individuals for preventing road accidents— says the cumulative 20- hour training that someone is required to undergo before they can be certified competent to drive is not enough.

“It is the case at any driving school. It is 40 days and in those 40 days, driving training happens for just 30 minutes. That brings the total to 20 hours. That is not enough; we end up with drivers on the roads when they are not well trained. This is something we must seriously look into,” Osman said in an interview yesterday.

He added that despite defensive driving being critical in preventing road accidents, it is not mandatory for every driver in Malawi.

OSMAN—That is not enough

Global vehicle dealer Carstore describes this kind of driving as a particular style of road driving that makes use of various techniques and tactics to help one stay safe and keep away from problems caused by other road users.

It says safety is the main benefit of defensive driving “as you are less likely to be involved in an accident if you follow a few simple rules”.

And according to Osman, it would be ideal for every driver plying on the roads of Malawi to undergo defensive driving.

“If you can count 10 accidents that have occurred in the country the past few months, you will clearly see that drivers are the ones at fault,” he said.

Spokesperson for the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) Angellina Makwecha indicated in an earlier response to our questionnaire that most the accidents are due to “the behaviour of road users”.

“Some of the unacceptable behaviours on the part of drivers include speeding, overtaking, reckless driving, drunk driving, fatigue and distracted driving,” Makwecha said.

She added that perpetual offenders will have their licences revoked.

“The directorate has put in place a lot of measures in line with the government reform programme aimed at improving safety on our roads, for example; the upgrade of the [Malawi Traffic Information System] was aimed at reducing human interference and subjectivity in the issuing of licencing and testing vehicles…,” Makwecha said.

On reports that some drivers corruptly obtain licences, Makwecha insisted there are arrangements which make it very unlikely that one can obtain a driving licence without fulfilling the requirements.

She, however, admitted that every system has its challenges when operated by people who lack integrity.

“DRTSS management is always concerned with reports of corruption amongst its officers which greatly compromises safety on our roads. The Directorate strongly encourages all Malawians to report any suspected acts of corruption by its officers to [the Anti-Corruption Bureau], DRTSS or police,” Makwecha said.

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