Road accident in Kigali/ File
BY JOSEPH MUDINGU
In a bid to strengthen social protection, the Government of Rwanda has continued to put in place programs that ensure individuals and communities do not slip into lack due to unpredictable calamities. The Special Guarantee Fund (SGF) can be considered as one of social protection programs put in place to ensuring the rights and well-being of the citizens.
This public institution in the previous years was known as Automobile Guarantee Fund created as an autonomous body in 2002 to compensate victims of road accidents caused by non-insured and non-identified vehicles.
But since December 2011, its mandate was extended to compensate victims of wild animals’ damages in areas that are in close proximity with national parks.
Joseph Nzabonikuza, the DG Special Guaratee fund / Joseph Mudingu
According to the SGF Director General Dr. Joseph Nzabonikuza, the extension was endorsed by President Paul Kagame who had received several complaints from local population whose properties had been damaged by animals from protected areas.
Compensation of victims of road accidents caused by non-insured vehicles may be found in few other countries in Africa and beyond. In Rwanda, the additional aspect of compensating victims of wild animal damages is indeed unique.. “This testifies again how our Government is close to the population and always keen to adequately address different problems affecting people wherever they are arising from” emphasizes the SGF DG.
Dr. Nzabonikuza further explains, SGF compensates claimants based on common practices and guidelines in Rwandan insurance industry. The lodged claims are analyzed and treated on equal footing as all claimants have equal rights to compensation for any eligible damages.
Commendable results so far recorded
A good number of claimants receive the SGF services every year as evidenced by SGF statistics. From January 2013 to end of August 2017, the SGF compensated 5,189 claims for wild animals damages, including cases of crops destroyed, cattle killed as well as number of people killed or injured by animals.
Such cases vary from province to province depending on the escaped wild animals from the parks and the proximity of population properties with protected zones. In the last 4 years, SGF compensated 2,648 cases in Eastern Province, 1548 in Northern Province, 438 in Southern Province, 553 in Western Province and y 2 recent cases, August 2017, that occurred in Kigali City where people killed by crocodiles from River Nyabarongo in Mageragere sector.
Nshimiyimana is a resident of Buvungira cell,Bushekeri sector, in Nyamasheke District, and is the father of Ishimwe Aline, a baby that was attacked by a group of baboons on the 29th June 2017.
“Her mother was attending to her garden when the baboons attacked. After the attack, we rushed her to a hospital and we reported the incident to the local leaders who communicated the case to other government institutions. It is in this process that the SGF immediately provided us with financial commitment for the health care and an amount of money as an advance payment of our compensation to help us survive at hospital,” explained Nshimiyimana.”Today Aline is healthy with only a scar on the side of her head. After we were released from hospital, we submitted the forms to SGF on the 06/09/2017 and they have assured us to be compensated before the end of the month,” he adds.
Ishimiyimana together with his wife and their daughter/ Joseph Mudingu
With regard to compensation of road accident victims, from 2007 to 2017, SGF statistics show that a total number of 978 claims have been settled making an average of about 100 claims per year.
However, it is worth noting that the number of compensated people depends on eligible beneficiaries in one case of accident. Road accidents reported to SGF have been increasing over time, dominated by cases of motorcycles and taxis without insurance. “This is our main concern because damages caused by monocycles reported at SGF have been increasing and we realize that one of the main factors behind this issue is that private insurance companies are becoming reluctant to provide insurance to motorcycles that cause very costly accidents,” explains Dr. Joseph Nzabonikuza. “But on the other side, we are very thankful to Traffic Police for the introduction of speed governors. The number of fatal accidents of public transport vehicles has significantly reduced” he adds.
Verifiable information shows that compensation process in SGF takes much less time compared to private insurance companies. For instance, in less than one month, the families of crocodiles’ victims in Mageragere sector were already compensated thanks to rapid collaboration between SGF and local authorities.
“With regard to compensation of wild animals’ victims, important actions have been adopted in order to put in place a stable and rapid collaborative network between local authorities and SGF to shorten the claim-compensation time lag. Today, positive progress is being realized thanks to our mobile teams and improved collaborative spirit with local authorities. This, indeed, is a big encouragement as our main objective is to achieve and maintain efficiency in service delivery,” emphasizes the DG.
Medical Services in Golden Hours
The SGF recently initiated another major program called Medical Services in Golden Hours (MSGH).
“Today we facilitate vulnerable victims who are financially hard up with emergency medical care in critical hours after a road accident as investigations are carried out to identify the responsible insurance company to compensate the victim,” Nzabonikuza says.
This program is under a pilot phase with CHUK and Rwanda Military Hospital both of which signed MoUs with SGF. It is expected that over time, it will be progressively extended to other major hospitals. However, for victims of wild animals, the SGF immediately takes in charge any required health care regardless of which health center the injured victim is treated as the compensation for such cases exclusively falls under SGF mandate.