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Government targets illegal roadside structures

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The government has vowed to demolish structures erected in road reserve boundaries in the country.

Transport and Public Works Deputy Minister Nancy Mdooko made the remarks on Saturday during this year’s commemoration of African Road Safety Day. The day falls on the third Sunday of November every year.

She said the country had been losing lives to preventable deaths, citing people’s reckless behaviour.

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“For example, we have a lot of markets that are not occupied by vendors ostensibly because they [vendors] prefer to trade along roads. This is bad and we will work with the Ministry of Local Government to make sure that road reserve boundaries are preserved through demolition of illegal structures,” Mdooko said.

She said, as part of preparatory work, government officials had started engaging vendors, through the Ministry of Local Government, to appreciate concerns that were making the vendors reluctant to get into designated markets.

Last year, about 18 people were killed at Kampepuza Market in Ntcheu District when a truck failed to negotiate a bend and veered into the marketplace.

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In the same year, 656 people were killed in 528 road accidents.

Ministry of Health statistics indicate that road accidents are the ninth leading cause of death in Malawi. Globally, about three million people die annually as a result of road accidents.

Road Traffic Department Deputy Director Annie Kandoje blamed the increase in cases of road accidents to careless driving.

“We have become a careless people who are disregarding road safety rules. Both motorists and pedestrians are to blame for their carelessness. We need to change our mindset and start appreciating simple rules such as observing speed limits at trading centres,” Kandoje said.

Kandoje further said her department wanted to replace vandalised road signs with new ones as one way of alerting motorists to potential dangers on the roads of Malawi.

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