Rwanda, on Monday, joined the rest of the world to mark the 5th UN Global Road Safety Week as part of the drive to reverse one of the leading causes of death in the world.
Thousands of road users including drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, employees of travel agencies and special hires, driving schools as well as pedestrians and specific youth groups, joined the ‘walk for road safety’ which started from different sites in the City of Kigali to Petit Stade in Remera, where the launch took place.
The week-long campaign is being held under the theme: “Leadership for Road Safety.”
The State Minister for Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, while speaking at the launch of the campaign, said that the theme holds everyone responsible to save lives that perish at the hands of reckless road users.
“As a driver, motorcyclist or cyclist, you are the leaders on the road; the lives of your passengers and other road users are in your hands… drive safe and arrive safely,” Uwihanganye said.
He observed that various measures such as continuous campaign, mechanical inspection, construction of roads and installation of traffic signs as well as the speed governor policy have played a big part in preventing road carnage, but added that “human reckless behaviors” remain one of the big challenges to road safety.
Statistics from the Rwanda National Police (RNP) department of Traffic and Road Safety indicate that at least 465 people died in road accidents last year, while 654 others sustained injuries in the same period.
“At least one life is lost every day and three others sustain serious injuries, 80 percent of these fatal accidents are due to reckless behaviors or motorists overtaking in blind spots and speeding,” the State Minister observed.
He appealed to all road users especially motorcyclists and drivers to embrace the theme (Leadership for Road Safety) by respecting road safety standards adding that “lives of those you are transporting rest in your hands.”
According to World Health Organization (WHO) 2018 report, more than 1.3 million people died in road traffic crashes globally – nearly 3 700 people dying on the world’s roads every day – and about 50 million others survived with serious injuries.
The global report further states that road traffic crashes are the 8th leading cause of death, with people aged between 5 and 29 years the majority victims.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) in charge of Operations, Felix Namuhoranye, said that driving while drunk, bribery, using the phone and violating road safety signposts are other causes of accidents.
“When you give a bribe, it’s because you have violated traffic rules and you were lucky today that your reckless actions did not claim someone’s life; it’s the same when you solicit or give bribes to acquire mechanical inspection certificate when your vehicle has mechanical faults. These are the human behaviours that later kill people, which everyone should stand up against,” Namuhoranye said.
He disclosed that 77 traffic Police officers were dismissed last year for taking bribes while 160 drivers were also arrested in the same period for giving bribes.
The Deputy Police Chief said that RNP, with the support of the government, will continue to educate road users, acquire hi-tech equipment including more CCTV cameras and other advanced technologies, and installation of GPS in automobiles to reinforce road traffic control measures.
The government set July this year for all commercial motorcycles to be fitted with GPS. There are about 65, 000 taxi-motos across the country.