The Government, on Monday, launched a 52-week-long road safety campaign to sensitise all categories of road users on traffic rules and regulations so as to promote road safety in the country.
The campaign, dubbed “Gerayo Amahoro” (loosely translated to ‘arrive safely’) is meant to develop and implement sustainable road safety strategies and programmes, and increase road safety awareness towards mindset change to prevent road carnage.
The launch was conducted concurrently in all bus terminals across the country where drivers, motorcyclists, heads of transport agencies, cyclists, pedestrians and passengers converged.
It is being conducted by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Rwanda National Police (RNP), Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) as well as private transport agencies, among others.
State Minister for Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, while speaking at the official launch of the campaign at Nyabugogo bus terminal in Nyarugenge District, said the decision to conduct the education campaign was informed by the previous one-week campaign that saw accidents reduce by about 60 per cent.
He said road accidents, on average, claim at least one life every day.
“A single death on our roads is one too many, and there is more we can all do to get the road fatalities down to zero, the Government is absolutely determined to reduce the carnage and trauma seen on our roads,” Uwihanganye said.
At least 465 people died in road accidents last year, while 654 others sustained injuries in the same period.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Administration and Personnel, Juvenal Marizamunda, explained that the campaign will focus on law enforcement, road safety education, and emergency responses.
The campaign, he said, should not be seen as policing, but as a “life-saving matter.”
“One moment of distraction, one bad decision to race through the red light or speeding could mean a lifetime in a wheelchair, painful operations or permanent health issues, or worse still death,” Marizamunda said.
He explained that police records show that most accidents are caused by unbecoming human behaviours.
“Speeding, drink-driving, using the phone while driving, and drugs, fatigue, dangerous manoeuvres and violating traffic control lights continue to be among the major causes of death on roads,” Marizamunda said.
Gerayo Amahoro will feature a range of education resources, including easy follow up of guidelines, a routine briefing session by all public service drivers on the rights and obligations of both the driver and passengers before embarking on any journey.
Others are audio-visual messages to be played in vehicles and bus stations highlighting behaviours and attitudes to improve road safety, including speed limits, wearing helmets, not using cell phones while driving or riding, or driving while drunk, among others.
Road users speak out
RNP also developed audio-visual road safety message, which was also distributed to travel agencies to educate passengers and their role in preventing road fatalities.
Jean de Dieu Nzabamwita, the manager of Excel Tours, a travel agency, said that they will benefit a lot from the campaign.
“We have more than 7000 clients per day; if they can understand the message and implement it we will see some change. Our company will benefit because in accidents we lose so many things, not only do we lose lives but also our vehicles are destroyed. We hope it will change the attitude of drivers,” he stated.
Felix Bosesibamwe, a passenger, said raising awareness will help save many lives.
“In many cases passengers in commuters, on motorcycles or even pedestrians are victims of reckless behaviours of motorists, changing their attitudes will save many lives,” Bosesibamwe said.
“This is a good initiative, no doubt by the end of 52 weeks we will see fruits,” Valantin Rukundo, a driver with Kigali Bus Services, observed.