Rwanda National Police (RNP) has maintained that even a single life lost in road accidents is unacceptable and preventable if all road users respect traffic rules and regulations.
While appearing on a live talk show on Radio Rwanda on Sunday on road safety, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Rafiki Mujiji said that effective prevention of fatalities starts with individual responsibility of drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, passengers and pedestrians.
The panelists also included representatives of transport companies; RFTC, ATPR, and the federation of motorcyclists – Ferwacotamo.
World over, it’s estimated that at least 1.3 million people are killed in road accidents, with about 90 percent in developing countries.
The World Bank estimates that at least US$6.5 billion is lost every year in road accidents.
In Rwanda, ACP Mujiji attributed accidents to inappropriate behavior of road users. About 46 percent of people who were killed in accidents between August and October were pedestrians while motorcyclists accounted for 18.5 percent.
Out of 254 people who sustained serious injuries in the same period, motorcyclists accounted for 28 percent while 21 percent were pedestrians.
“It’s a matter of mindset change. It doesn’t require you to know how to read and write to regulate your speed, respect pedestrian pathways, Zebra crossing, traffic lights, stop using a phone while driving and overtaking or parking in dangerous corners, which continue to be the leading cause of fatal accidents,” ACP Mujiji said.
He noted that provisional driving license tests are meant to test candidates’ understanding of road safety standards, adding that human behavior which continue to cost lives should be approached in a broad perspective where a passenger shouldn’t allow to be transported by a drunk person, a driver speaking on phone or driving on deadly speed.
“There are many communication channels through which any person can report a reckless driver or motorcyclist. This is because we want to all partner against road users who continue to take lives of innocent people,” he said.
The toll free lines are 112 for emergency, 113 for traffic, 0788311110, 0788311112, 0788311216 and 0788311502.
He also mentioned the behavior of pedestrians and motorcyclists, the respective lead cause or victims of accidents, calling for high level of vigilance.
“We also in the process with the ministry of education to introduce road safety lessons in schools.”
The road safety month launched a fortnight ago has been taken down to the village level, where safety messages are read out during community gatherings in each of the 14 837 Villages across the country.
On the issue motorcycles, he said that a policing unit has been established to reorganise them and ensure that they operate in the set safety guidelines.
“The unit has impounded over 1000 motorcycles in the last few months for grave traffic offences. All that we are doing is to ensure that no life is lost due to reckless behaviours,” he noted.
Between January and October this year, a total of 1765 motorcyclists were involved in road accidents, according to police report.
Alexis Uzayisenga from the federation of motorcyclists (FERWACOTAMO), said that they are now putting their members in groups for easy management, partnering with police to train their security personnel and installing GPS in motorcycles.
Close to 300 security personnel in motorcycle cooperatives have been trained so far.
Bishop Gihangire of Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC) acknowledged that some of their drivers’ behavior has in some way resulted into accidents.