Many Rwandan roads are as smooth as a carpet and this has often landed some of us on the wrong side of the law. We often find ourselves pulled off the road for having accelerated past the designated speed limits.
The speed guns never lie so we oblige, give out our licenses and pay the state its dues as a result. Yes, the pocket suffers but the bigger picture is of more significant value, it is in the interest of the public and our safety.
I believe many of us have a testimony to recount when it comes to speeding. It indeed comes as surprise and what follows when we are caught in such trouble is that we deny or defend ourselves.
We at times tend to think that our officers are over strict or are on a fault finding expedition for that matter.
Although by merely being told you sped casts doubt – and this has happened many times –, I believe that with a recorded speed shown, we have no excuse for our negligence.
Let us accept the fact; any effort to prevent road carnage is imperative. It is action that any country’s law enforcement arm must give a lot of weight and Rwanda is particular.
Unlike those countries where one can have a kilometre stretch of plain road, Rwandan roads are characterized by twists and turns that need extra caution.
Because of our undulated breathtaking topography, driving in Rwanda requires having a sixth, if not a seventh, sense. Most of our brothers and sisters from elsewhere may testify to this.
For instance, a friend of mine from an Asian country once told me that driving from Kigali to some parts of the country needs extra guts and wits. He had just come for a visit in Rwanda and felt he wanted to cruise himself to some of the most stunningly picturesque sceneries in the East African region.
Our country’s capacity to inspire awe is unmatched. It began drizzling and my friend could not imagine how he would maneuver if the rains intensified, with steeps after every 200 metres, sharp bends, hills on one side and valleys on the other.
This friend called in the middle of the journey and asked me to send him a driver; he solemnly packed by the roadside waiting for the rescue and evacuation.
Anyway, our roads require strict measures even in the City of Kigali where we have begun seeing an upsurge in the number of vehicles and activities taking place.
Unfortunately, most of our motari (taxi-moto operators) show no respect for traffic rules.
While the speed of those on the wheel is under constant watch, thanks to our ever vigilant traffic police, the taxi motos (motard) continue to wallow in their own world of ecstasy and phantasmagoria.
They fume profusely beyond an ambulance on an emergency call leaving you without apprehension of the risks involved.
I may not have the actual statistics of the percentage of accidents caused by ‘motari’ compared to motor vehicles, but I believe theirs is easily preventable – yet they often record the worst fatalities.
This might not end soon if the authorities relent on reining in the speeding motorcyclists. I am also aware of the numerous encounters between the traffic police and the motorists by way of informing and educating the latter!
The taxi-moto has become a mode of transport preferred by many people in town, mostly those who want their business done quicker. These passengers might be opting for a quicker means of reaching their destination.
However, that does not justify turning a bike into a ‘ground jet’, this endangers their lives and that of the public.
Yes, the motor bikes provide improved mobility to those ready and willing to brave personal risks but there are additional costs borne by others, including innocent pedestrians!
On another note, so many people have shared with me how they stand by the road and a group of ‘motaris’ jerk to them revving as if they are soon taking off to Mars or Jupiter.
A few have also found themselves competing with taxi-motos over footpaths exclusively meant for pedestrians.
Do not forget about the habit of disowning the traffic lights which this column touched sometimes back.
A small step in regulating taxi-motos will not only improve road safety but also bring about order and sanity on our roads. They play a very important role in public transport but only require a bit of sensibility.
Granted, there are businesses which cannot fetch any returns without their quick services, such as in situations of door to door delivery of goods and services, and moving people to congested or remote areas. But to begin with, we need a safe ride on our popular motos!