It’s unbearable grief when young lives are carelessly snuffed out at the hands of rogue drivers.
Last weekend saw this kind of tragedy when seven students from Kampala International University, six of them Rwandan, perished in a road crash on the Kampala-Gulu highway in Uganda. May their precious souls rest in peace!
On which note, we also mourn the precious souls of the young victims of a grenade blast in Tanzania last Wednesday and the victims of last week’s church shooting in Texas, USA, as we do all those on the African and Asian continents killed in senseless wars.
The Ugandan and US incidents particularly should remind us that we cannot afford a disinterested attitude towards individuals with the power of endangering others’ lives.
We need to be alert to the conduct of such villainous drivers or fickle weapon-bearers and by all means report them to institutions entrusted with our collective safety. That way, we shall have done our bit in being our brother’s/sister’s keeper and in helping our state to protect us.
It’s an all-together different matter, of course, when some states allow individuals to purchase that “power of endangering others’ lives” from the next gun shop at will. Or let law-enforcers turn their guns against those they are in the employ of protecting.
We can only pray that our society does not get advanced to that level!
Having said which, and coming back to road accidents, we revisit the good job of work that our police keep reporting. Who can forget the butcher spots on our roads and how they had become an existential threat to everyone of us?
There were many accident-prone parts of our highways but some had seemingly become inescapable graveyards for many a passenger.
For example, we cannot forget the notorious Musha descent, on the Kigali-Rwamagana road, and the Umutara highway, where some drivers never cared to heed signs of cattle crossing roads.
And who didn’t dread mention of the Kigali-Huye highway, with parts that spelt definite death?
Nearer to Kigali, the Nkoto ku Kivumu and Karengera spots, in Kamomnyi District; the Rwasave swamp spot, before you reach Huye town, that was nicknamed Mukobwa Mwiza (beautiful lady), supposedly a Kinyarwanda version of ‘femme fatale’; and then further to the south-west, Nyungwe Forest’s Kamiranzovu swamp (elephant-swallower), which seemed to have swapped elephants for vehicle-borne humans.
It’s thanks to the vigilance of our traffic police that these human-swallowers have been tamed and road fatalities generally reduced. A firm enforcement of discipline on the police by our state was all that was needed for the problem to be minimized.
Alas, the “firm enforcement” words alone may be alien to some states.
Anyway, apart from the good work our police are doing in ensuring the security of person, on the road or anywhere else, we must commend them for the security of our property, too.
And here, maybe the best example comes from our “prim and pretty airport”, to quote a traveller.
Without even mention of the wads of dollar bills recovered for negligent travellers, sometimes more than enough to pay the concerned policeman’s/woman’s lifetime earnings, you may remember the excitement of a regular traveller from the USA, as he shared it with us.
When his iPad was snitched from his trolley by a fellow passenger as he was distracted in the baggage hall and he fussily reported it at the security desk, he was politely asked to calm down: “Sir, here nothing can be stolen and disappear. Please give us your contact mobile number.”
Even his confidence in our police, as regular visitor, had not prepared him for their profuse apologies for any incontinence caused, when soon after they showed up at his door. They were not only bearing his iPad but also a video of the snitching act and the arrest of the suspect.
But the traveller is among the finest of fine story-tellers and you can punch “Rwanda’s Finest: RNP” into Google and get the story from the horse’s mouth (with all due respect!), if you haven’t.
When you remember how our police go beyond their plateful of duties to assist the poor and vulnerable, in services and materials, and how they have become exemplary in UN missions abroad, you can’t but marvel.
That is, however, until you read about the Japanese police force!
In Japan, police has reduced crime (with a murder rate of 0.3 for every 100,000 people) and road accidents so much that they are idle enough to come to the ‘rescue’ of a lady who reports an undergarment that’s been “swiped from a clothesline”! Recently when a man left his car unlocked for a week, with a crateful of beer inside, they laid ambush the whole time, just in case.
Luckily for them (!), that “just in case” came when a middle-aged man decided to help himself. “Five policemen....pounced, nabbing one of the few.....remaining law-breakers,” it’s reported.
Can our police get there? After all, on murder rate, we are not far from there.
As our leadership never tires in saying, with the involvement of us all no mountain is too high.
The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.