Senators want heavier fines for flouting road safety rules

Senators investigating the state of road safety have urged the government to impose heavier fines on reckless motorists and increase road safety campaigns across the country.
Dr Nzahabwanimana (2nd right) responds to queries from the senators at Parliament yesterday. (John Mbanda)
Dr Nzahabwanimana (2nd right) responds to queries from the senators at Parliament yesterday. (John Mbanda)

Senators investigating the state of road safety have urged the government to impose heavier fines on reckless motorists and increase road safety campaigns across the country.

The senatorial Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security has spent about three months investigating the situation of road safety and collecting ideas on how to end road carnage across the country.

While meeting the State Minister for Transport, Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, at Parliament, yesterday, the senators said there is need for more road safety public awareness campaigns as well as teaching of road safety notions to students in schools.

They called for enacting of laws that govern driving schools and garages in the country. They also called for heavier fines for traffic offenses in order to discourage reckless driving.

Dr Nzahabwanimana said 60 per cent of road accidents are caused by reckless driving such as talking on phone while driving as well as speeding.

The senators, who toured the entire country asking people on what should be done to reduce road accidents, told Minister Nzahabwanimana that a lot needs to be done in order to change drivers’ attitude towards road safety.

“We need to look more closely at our laws and to increase awareness campaigns about road safety,” said Sen. Jacqueline Muhongayire.

Jean Damascène Bizimana, chairperson of the committee, emphasised the need to impose heavier fines to careless drivers.

Currently, traffic fines range between Rwf10,000 and Rwf150,000 for various offences.

“We should increase the amount of money paid in fines against bad driving because people will feel it when bigger fines are imposed on them,” Bizimana said.

Law on garages, driving schools

Bizimana also said there is need to enact laws to govern garages and driving schools in the country to ensure that quality vehicle mechanics and quality information about road safety are provided.

A joint report by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Rwanda National Police indicates that 492 people were killed in road accidents last year, a figure that is slightly lower than 526 killed in accidents in 2013.

Minister Nzahabwanimana said government is working on plans that will boost road safety. The measures include introducing cameras to be placed at certain points along the roads to capture vehicles that speed and asking public passenger vehicles and cargo trucks to install speed governors to prevent them from speeding.

“The government is very sensitive about the issue of road safety. It’s a matter of time for bad drivers to be held accountable and stop the practice. We don’t wish anyone to lose life in motor accidents,” the minister said.

He said installation of speed governors will be imposed on passenger transporting vehicles and trucks transporting goods starting with next year while the cameras along the roads will be introduced as soon as possible.

The minister also admitted that laws to govern garages and driving schools in the country need to be enacted.

“We will introduce the laws as soon as possible,” Nzahabwanimana said.

In August, last year, President Paul Kagame tasked public officials to initiate measures to end a spate of road accidents in the country.

Officials at different levels have since moved to assess issues of road safety and provide the general public with tips on how to prevent road accidents.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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