Road accidents claimed 103 lives and injured 400 people in the past four months alone, the Commissioner of Traffic and Road Safety, CP George Rumanzi has revealed.
He was speaking Friday during a meeting with public transport drivers and bus owners operating under the Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC).
“Road accidents have now become a serious national problem as we are losing more lives due to violation of traffic rules. We cannot allow this to continue; and that is the reason we are coming up with tight measures against reckless drivers,” Rumanzi said, adding that most accidents were a result of over-speeding, driving while talking on phone or under the influence of alcohol.
The meeting was called to seek solutions to road carnage, Col. (rtd) Ludovic Twahirwa, the head of RFTC, said
Police recently warned that officers will move to enforce Law Number 34 of September 1987 that stipulates stiffer fines for habitual offenders.
Police says that a single traffic offence will not exceed a fine of Rwf150, 000 while multiple offences will attract a higher penalty. Some drivers say the fines are very high.
But Rumanzi said: “No driver will pay a fine if they don’t commit a traffic offence, but negotiating to bring this fine down simply means you want to deliberately violate traffic rules and pay, which is not the intention of this measure. We actually want to make sure that there are no road accidents on our roads,” he said.
Road accidents have been rampant in recent months with police reporting 1,324 cases during the first half of the year alone.
The most fatal happened in July when two public transport vehicles collided, killing about 15 people in Gatsibo District, Eastern Province.
Drivers blame their bosses for demanding a lot of money from them per day, something they claim forces them to over speed.
A driver who preferred anonymity told The Sunday Times that over speeding is a result of excessive demands from their employers.
“Owners of vehicles want a lot of money; but I want to remind you that we also need to take something home and this sometimes forces us to speed so as to keep our jobs,” he said.
He added that drivers plying city routes have to report to bus owners at the end of the day with Rwf25,000 or 30,000. He asked RFTC to address the issue.
But Ramazane Kayumba, a bus owner who has been in the business for five years, dismissed the claims saying that there is always an agreement where drivers themselves suggest how much they are able to make in a day.
But Col. Twahirwa, said RFTC is aware of this challenge.
“We shall bring the two parties together so that we see how we can address this issue,” he said.