At the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali’s causality ward, Raymond Karamage, 26, is lying on a bed; his heavily bandaged left leg in a suspended position supported by cords.
Karamage, a taxi-moto operator, was on his way from Shyorongi to Kigali when he sustained an ankle and thigh bone fracture following a head-on collision with a car early last month.
This resident of Nyabugogo suburb, a City of Kigali suburb, went into coma for a week. He has since undergone ankle repair surgery and is now waiting for a similar procedure for his broken thigh bone.
Karamage is just one of the growing numbers of victims of motorbike accident which Dan Munyuza, deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations), attributes to over speeding, recklessness and ridding under the influence drugs.
Statistics released by the Rwanda National Police (RNP) last month, show that 204 road accidents were caused by motorcyclists in August across the country, and that 176 of them were within Kigali.
Indeed, a visit to hospitals in the city suburbs reveals a worrisome situation.
At Kibagabaga Hospital in Gasabo District, Ferdinand Ngabonziza, 24, a security guard working with Intersec, lies in the emergency and accidents ward, with a broken left leg, bruised right hand and face.
“I had stopped at the roadside in Ndera sector to speak to a friend when a rider lost control crashing my bicycle and causing these injuries to me,” he said.
Ngabonziza who had under gone a leg scan was referred to Rwanda Military Hospital for orthopedic surgery.
A few meters away from him is Viateur Musoni, 40, a broadcast technician, seated on a plastic chair with his right leg being plastered by a nurse after undergoing some kind of therapy.
A day before, Musoni, while riding a personnel motorcycle on some murram road in Kinyinya, Gasabo District, was hit by a speeding taxi-moto from the opposite direction. He suffered a dislocation of the ankle.
Even when armed with health insurance, he still has to part with Rwf80,000 in medical bills for the service.
Extent of such accidents
Jean-Jacques Irakiza, the in charge of accidents and emergency section at Kibagabaga hospital, admits that such accidents are on the increase.
“Though we are not a referral facility for people with accident injuries, I can tell you that in the last 24 hours alone, we received over 10 cases related to taxi-moto accidents,” he said.
He adds that out of every eight cases of accident that include falls, road and industrial accidents, five are traced to taxi-motos. When Sunday Times visited, 15 cases of taxi-moto accidents were undergoing treatment while several others had been referred to referral hospitals for specialized management.
“Here we deal with minor injuries only; the serious ones are referred to RMH, and CHUK. In the past one week, we have referred about 20 people,” Irakiza said. He said increasing taxi-moto accidents were causing pressure on health facilities.
“Sometimes we receive cases checking in at the same time; and at times it’s difficult to mobilise enough medical workers,” he noted.
Measures in place
According to Anita Ahayo, the director of Injuries and Disability unit at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), there is an ongoing media campaign aimed at reminding motorists of the dangers of over speeding and drink-driving to curb accidents.
“We hold regular radio shows where we sensitise masses on the importance of sticking to road rules; plans are also under way to put posters at every health facility with messages related to road safety,” she revealed.
Ahayo says that by the beginning of this month, eye checkups of all drivers will begin and thereafter moto riders. The aim is to ensure that every driver/rider has good eyesight.
Munyuza warned that incessant accidents could lead one to lose their driving license.