‘Road accidents hinder national development
Road accidents claimed at least 1,060 lives and injured 975 people in the year 2014 alone, Minister of Transport and Public Works, Francis Kasaila, has said.
He said this in Blantyre yesterday when the country commemorated the African Road Safety Day.
The day also saw government launching the National Road Safety Strategic Plan for the period 2015 to 2020.
The commemorations come amid reports that Malawi has also been losing 3 percent of its annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to accidents since 2013.
It is also estimated that at least 3,228 passengers have been killed in Malawi through road accidents since 2012.
Most of these accidents, Kasaila said, are a result of road user behaviours and limited road infrastructure, specifically along the country’s highways and urban areas.
He, therefore, called on various stakeholders to join hands in initiatives that promote road safety.
“As evident in the Malawian scenario, what we lack most as a country is a vibrant multi-sectoral approach in road safety, where there ought to be heavy participation of not only government agencies, but also the civil society, the private sector, faith community and the media,” Kasaila said.
He also added that it is only through everyone’s involvement that, as a country, we can begin to make positive strides in road safety.
“What is more worrying about the country’s accident situation is that most of the people losing their lives are actually middle-aged productive males who are critical to the country’s national development,” he said.
Kasaila then disclosed that government has committed to reduce by half road accidents in the country by the year 2020, pointing to the newly launched strategic plan as a major player in government’s quest.
Said Kasaila: “The strategy has emphasized on involvement of all stakeholders in taking action to reduce road accidents in the country and so far as government, we are pleased to see that some stakeholders, including the private sector, have already taken a leading role in implementing the strategy.”
Kasaila also took a swipe at officials from Malawi’s law enforcement agencies, saying they must start punishing anyone found to be contravening road safety statutes.
“It is now high time we (Road Traffic) started teaching a lesson to people who deliberately contravene road safety procedures, it does not make sense for police to give back car keys to someone found to be driving while drunk to go back home as that is in a way sending him to continue causing trouble on our roads.
“So my message to you is simple: Arrest them, even if they are rich or big shots in town, let us teach them a lesson,” Kasaila said.
The commemorations were held under the theme ‘Passengers, be responsible for your safety on the road’.
Reports indicate that road accidents have silently taken more lives than most of the illnesses such as malaria.
During the event on Sunday, Kasaila and Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume visited the Emergency Ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and led a solidarity march to Nyambadwe Primary School ground where the commemorations were held.
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