By Emmanuel Simpokolwe:
The Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) has bemoaned the increase in the number of road accidents involving school-going children in the country.
DRTSS Director, Fergus Gondwe, said this at Biwi Primary School in Lilongwe during the launch of a road safety programme on Friday.
Gondwe said in 2017, 242 children under the age of 17 died in road accidents and the number rose to 247 in 2018.
“The department has observed that some irresponsible parents and guardians entrust the responsibility of ferrying children to and from school on kabaza and motorcycle taxi drivers who, in most cases, lack knowledge of road traffic rules and regulations.
“Most riders bunch three or more children on one bicycle or motorcycle which compromises safety and security of children,” Gondwe said.
Since 2017, Centre for Youth and Children Affairs (Ceyca) has been working with another non-governmental organisation, Amend, to reduce vehicle speeds and provide safe pedestrian infrastructure such as speed humps, pedestrian crossing, footpaths and signage to schools that are close to roads in Lilongwe.
Ceyca Executive Director, Desmond Mhango, said the project was part of an Africa-wide programme supported by Puma Foundation and FIA Foundation, carried out in nine countries on the continent.
“It is our desire that the government draws lessons from this project and model safety measures for prevention of road accidents involving school-going children,” Mhango said.
World Health Organisation estimates that over 5,600 people are killed on Malawi’s roads every year and that child pedestrians are among the highest risk group for road traffic injuries.