Horror of road carnage


Statistics from the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) say it all: In just three months from July to September this year, 329 lives were lost on the roads of Malawi.

Travelling by road while enjoying the beautiful scenery across the country was once a marvel.

But, for all its accessibility and affordability, travelling by road is no longer pleasurable. It has become so scary people are not sure as to whether they will arrive at their destination in one piece.


The road accident, which claimed the lives of 24 Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers recently at Mapanjila in Mzimba, has left the nation horrified and chilled to the bone.

Every week, there are reports of all types of vehicles, whether in excellent or poor condition, getting involved in accidents.

Diseases such as cholera, HIV and Aids, diarrhoea and malaria, which were once feared as life-threatening, are being undermined in the face of the numerous road accidents.


And Malawians are shifting the blame on different stakeholders tasked with the responsibility of making the country’s roads safe.

But DRTSS spokesperson, Angellina Makweche, attributes the soaring numbers in road accidents to over-speeding.

Makweche says there were 854 road accidents between July and September this year, with 329 human lives lost.

“The Central Region registered most road accidents, totalling 500, of which 150 were fatal. The Southern Region recorded 262 road accidents,” says Makweche.

She says the directorate is devising ways of reducing road accidents.

These include the introduction of a Toll Free line dabbed 4040 where people can call and report any road traffic violations. It has also intensified awareness and enforcement exercises and the reviewing of the Regulation and Road Traffic Act to suit the current environment.

Makweche says road safety is a cross-cutting issue and requires coordination from different sectors, including the public.

Southern Region Police spokesperson, Rodney Mushane, says the conduct of most drivers on the roads is the major factor in the carnage on our roads.

“Most drivers ignore road signs, some drive under the influence of alcohol while others have a sheer excitement of over-speeding,” Mushane says.

He refutes accusations that traffic police have failed to control road accidents.

“The public should be advised that they have a responsibility to prevent these accidents from happening.

“They should ensure that their vehicles are road worthy, and that they are carrying the recommended load capacity. Passengers must ensure that drivers are driving responsibly and report them should they behave otherwise,” he says.

Speed traps, use of breathalysers and roadblocks are other measures that the traffic police are using as means of reducing cases of road accidents on the roads of Malawi.

But the Roads Authority (RA), an institution mandated to construct and look after the country’s main roads, says the increasing cases of accidents have nothing to do with roads’ condition.

“Our roads are very safe and, as Roads Authority, we are always ready to do maintenance works where we feel it is not safe for motorists to travel safe,” says Portia Kajanga, RA spokesperson.

She says drivers’ mindset, condition of vehicles and fatigue are the major reasons behind soaring road accidents in Malawi.

“People don’t check the conditions of their vehicles and this is dangerous. Motorists should always make ensure that their cars are in good conditions before embarking on a journey,” Kajanga says.

She adds that motorists should not drive when they feel tired because fatigue results in lapse of concentration on the road.

Baxton Kapachira is a minibus operator in Blantyre City. While admitting poor road use by motorists as a major contributing factor to road accidents, he says road accidents are just like any other catastrophe; cannot be predicted.

“An accident is an accident. We just need to be careful when on the roads,” Kapachira says.

In the face of threats from road accidents, a platform of opportunity has emerged for some people of God who offer prayers and sermons of comfort in buses.

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