It is quite sad to note that we continue to lose innocent lives on our roads through accidents, some of them avoidable. No matter how much we talk about it or we encourage those on the roads to be responsible, the move seems to be having the opposite effect.
Over the past few weeks, we have lost people while many others got injured through road accidents. In Blantyre near Clock Tower roundabout, over 20 people were injured and rushed to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital following an accident involving a minibus whose driver, we are told, was allegedly trying to dodge traffic police. Elsewhere, 10 people died on the M1 Road after a bus they were travelling in was involved in an accident in Kasungu while another person, who was fixing a truck that had a breakdown in Karonga, was killed after the stationery truck was hit by a bus with several passengers on board. That is not all; 14 people died in Chikwawa when a speeding lorry they were travelling in hit another vehicle and veered off the road onto a dangerous slope. If you are not alarmed with all this, then you must really be made of stronger metal.
Perhaps by putting a face to it, some of the megalomaniacs who drive as if they have bought a one-way ticket to hell can begin to think twice and drive responsibly on the roads, even if not for their sake but for the sake of other road users. In the Chikwawa accident, for example, we are told headmasters of three community day secondary schools, who were on their way back from a seminar, were among the casualties. How do you begin to recover from that? Not only have schools lost some of their administrators but families have equally lost their breadwinners.
This should be a timely wake-up call to everyone on the roads to play their part in helping avoid accidents. There are times when nothing could have been done but then there are also moments whereby you are left feeling guilty that an accident was avoidable.
Let me also appeal to the authorities (traffic police, Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services) to strictly enforce the rules and regulations when on the roads. They must, at all times, play by the book and not try to intimidate the road users because sometimes it is because drivers are scared or jittery that they end up causing accidents.
In the same breath, motorists should not be seen to apply the rules and regulations only when the law enforcers or DRTSS officials are in sight. We must remember that life is too precious and it is irreplaceable. Should we, then, cry foul when the authorities start taking a hardline, such as imposing hefty penalties, since most of us are not ready to play our role? We must tame road carnage once and for all.
They never saw Kachamba coming
For so long, some groups (sadly, they include public agencies) purporting to have the best interests of the youth, went round the country trying to convince every Jack and Jim that they have the answer to the problem of unemployment in the country and hold the magical wand to creating business and job opportunities. Some of them have even handed out what they called ‘starter packs’ to the would-be beneficiaries so that they can launch their entrepreneurial careers but many of such ventures have actually died in the offing since they were left to their toys with no clear guidelines.
Well, they never saw one Kondwani Kachamba Ngwira coming. Since his recent ground-moving ‘skills transferring training’ in Lilongwe, it appears the move has ‘jump-started’ a number of entrepreneurial careers (whether real or simply out of excitement). He has been sharing ‘testimonies,’ through his social media page, of those who wasted little time in putting his production formulas to test. Others are making confectionaries, toiletries and while we are at it, there are some in the engineering field who are allegedly using their ingenuity to come up with much affordable medium-sized machines.
It is good, for once, to see how Malawians are riding on this Kachamba euphoria and he certainly must be doing something right. I hope those who have fared miserably in trying to pull off similar initiatives are taking notes.
It is quite frustrating to see our country continuously struggling to come up with local products that can ably compete, not even at the global stage but on the domestic market. I doubt if we would come out successful if we were to be given a supply quota for each Malawi-made product we have around.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).