On the front page of The Daily Times of Monday, there was a sad story accompanied by a grim picture of a road accident that happened in Mzimba District on Saturday. Seven people died while five were injured in that accident.
The story was too gory and mood dampening, especially when it was supposed to be a season of merriment, as we were crossing over from one year to another. However, that accident was just a saddening summation of what the past year had been: a year of road accidents.
According to Malawi Police Service Inspector General, Lexten Kachama, not less than 2,500 people died in road accidents in 2017 alone. The stats are shocking especially when you consider the fact that on average more than 200 people lost their lives every month.
While we are counting the lives lost, it is wise that we take a moment to think deeply about what the causes of these deaths are.
One of the problems that we have is our pathetic roads that make driving a dangerous venture. Even the M1, which is the country’s main road, is in a sorry state that one cannot believe it is the country’s most important carriage.
Apart from the pathetic roads, our systems are just too weak and this has resulted in having road unworthy vehicles plying on our roads. To make matters worse, the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services seems to be den of corruption where people who do not even know where an ignition key is can just walk in and come out with a driver’s licence.
Our traffic police, too, have a share of blame. From what one can observe, traffic officers are not there to enforce the law but have taken their profession as a money-churning venture other than a calling to enforce the law and protect lives.
All we are saying is that we should approach 2018 with utmost care because we cannot afford to be losing lives in preventable road accidents as has been the case the just-ended year. Let us keep in mind that every death is one too many.
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