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Road accidents killing youths

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The Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) has observed that more passengers and pedestrians are being killed in road accidents, a large percentage of the victims being those between 25 and 44 years, the most economically active and productive age group.

Speaking during the commemoration of the 2017 Africa Road Safety Day in Salima on Saturday, DRTSS acting Director, Fergus Gondwe, said the country has witnessed over 2, 500 fatal road accidents in the past three years leading to deaths of more than 3,000 people in the process.

Gondwe said, looking closely at the past two years, the total number of accidents has reduced by 52 percent from 8, 201 in 2015 to 5, 406 in 2016 but statistics show that during the years in question, 1, 068 and 1,122 people were killed.

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The statistics also show that the first nine months of 2017 saw a decrease in the number of road accidents, from 4, 228 in 2016 to 2, 572 accidents this year, with the sad reality of increased number of deaths from 1, 122 last year to 1, 791 from January to September 2017.

“This ceremony is an important tool in the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services in our efforts to reduce road traffic casualties. It offers an opportunity for drawing attention to the scale of emotional, social and economic devastation caused by road crashes. It also accords us an opportunity to recognise and empathise with road crash victims,” Gondwe said.

He pleaded for collective responsibility towards road safety, in line with the commemoration’s theme, ‘Road Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility’.

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Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mhango, described the number of deaths on the country’s roads as alarming, adding that they are an embarrassment to all road safety stakeholders including the government.

“It really pains me as the Minister of Transport to be hearing of these avoidable fatal accidents almost on daily basis since my Ministry is responsible for the provision of safe transport systems, among others. These road accidents are robbing the country of productive citizens who could have contributed to the economic development of this country,” Mhango said.

Apart from initiating increased awareness programmes and traffic law enforcement, both Gondwe and Mhango said government is in the process of amending road traffic regulations by instituting stiffer penalties to road offenders.

The Africa Road Safety Day was launched on November 18 2012 and Malawi held its first commemoration in November 2013.

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