Owners and managers of hospitality facilities have been called upon to understand and own the ongoing national road safety campaign to further make roads safe for all.
The call was made on Wednesday in a meeting that brought together Rwanda National Police (RNP), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and 140 owners and managers of hotels, bars and nightspots in City of Kigali.
The meeting discussed joint measures against drunk-driving, child protection and serving alcoholic beverages to minors, noise pollution and drug abuse.
Commissioner of Police (CP), John Bosco Kabera, said that RNP is playing its part of enforcing the law, but efforts by everyone will go a long way to achieve the intended goals to prevent road accidents.
“Those who drive under (the) influence of alcohol are your clients; you can help by teaching them the dangers of driving while drunk, provide them with alternative safer ways to get home,” Kabera said.
He added: “We are not trying to hinder your businesses, but we are saving people’s lives. We are doing whatever it takes to fight drunk-driving and you should understand that it is your responsibility as well to search for a viable solution for people to enjoy without affecting road security and doing business. We want people to comply with road safety regulations for everyone on the road to stay alive.”
Kabera warned that putting people’s lives in danger for personal gains will not be tolerated and emphasised legal action against anyone found serving alcoholic beverages to those aged below 18 years.
“Serving alcohol to minors is a serious offence punishable by the law. In case you doubt the age of your customer, ask for their national identity card to be very sure.”
Article 27 of the law relating to the protection of a child states that, any person, who sells alcoholic beverages or tobacco to a child, causes or encourages a child to drink alcoholic beverages, to smoke or to go to bars commits an offence.
Upon conviction, the offender is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than three months but not exceeding six months and a fine of between Rwf100, 000 and Rwf200, 000.
They were also reminded to pin "don’t drink and drive" and “it’s prohibited to serve alcohol to anyone below 18 years of age” posters in their premises and reserve special places for smoking.
Participants were enlightened on road safety in general and in particular on driving under the influence of alcohol as one of the major causes of serious and fatal accidents.
More than 1200 drivers were arrested between January and August this year, for driving while under the influence of alcohol.
About 85 accidents caused by drunk-driving were registered in last year’s first eight months and 91 others recorded in the same period this year. About 12 people lost their lives to drunk-drivers in the past two months.
Belise Akaliza, Chief Tourism Officer at RDB, urged participants to be part of the solution instead of thinking about their businesses only.
She said that by saving people’s lives they will be saving their businesses as well.
“Some of those, who are dying in accidents, are your regular clients and innocent road users. If we sit behind and do nothing we will encounter losses in the long run. We have to search for solutions which help businesses to grow without affecting the safety and security of everyone,” Akaliza said.
She added that providing drivers for their clients, who are drunk and having rooms where their clients can rest could be among the solutions.
Barakabuye Nsengiyumva, the Chairperson of Rwanda Hospitality Association, commended RNP’s efforts to reduce road accidents and committed to working with the Police against drunk-driving and in promoting road safety in general.
“We appreciate what RNP is doing; they are providing safety to all people in our country, and security is what we need for our businesses,” Nsengiyumva said.
He added: “We do understand that lives of clients matter and we are ready to cooperate with RNP. Despite challenges that we are facing we look forward to working with the government to find sustainable solutions for both our businesses and road safety in general.”
The national road safety campaign dubbed ‘Gerayo Amahoro’ is the ongoing 52-week campaign launched in May, coupled with law enforcement to prevent people’s actions, which are largely blamed for road carnage.