Motorcycle accidents still a major cause of deaths - police

Motorcycles in Rwanda are increasingly becoming an unreliable means of transport as they still account for a large percentage of reported road accidents and deaths, the police have said.
A Police man directs motocycles during the Road safety week that preceded Christmas. (Photo/ G.Barya).
A Police man directs motocycles during the Road safety week that preceded Christmas. (Photo/ G.Barya).

Motorcycles in Rwanda are increasingly becoming an unreliable means of transport as they still account for a large percentage of reported road accidents and deaths, the police have said.

Recent statistics of which The New Times has obtained a copy show that out of 2,878 deaths recorded in the past eight years, motorcycles accounted for over 15 percent, in different categories of reported accidents.

“Just last year we received reports of over 50 deaths and all of them involved motorbikes,” Supt Robert Niyonshuti, the Commander of Traffic Police told The New Times at his offices yesterday. He attributed the problem to carelessness and over speeding by motorcyclists.

“They always ride very fast to beat time, turn or overtake wrongly yet most of them lack the required basic qualifications,” Niyonshuti lamented.

He admits that though saloon cars and commuter taxis have collectively accounted for a record 37 percent of reported accidents, motorbikes still remain a major threat.

Records also show that 26 percent of injured road accident victims are motorcyclists while 75 percent of them have no valid driving licenses.

According to the traffic chief, these and other related though isolated cases are what have incited the force to mount a major crackdown on illegal passenger transporters.

“This is why our aim is to ensure that all road users including these motorcyclists and drivers are aware of the established conditions and abide by the law all the time,” he said.

Last year the police registered 398 road accident deaths  the highest number, since 2004 and the force attributes this to three fatal accidents towards the end of the year.

“Due to the 24 hour cross boarder operation allowed recently, three vehicles traveling at night across boarders caused death of close to thirty people,” Niyonshuti said.

Another anomaly is that in the past six years a total of 67,593 vehicles were imported into the country and this traffic increase does not relate to the current trend of road networks.

“Motorbikes have even tripled in number since 2007 and we could be forced to reconsider banning their operations in the city like it was in 2006,” Niyonshuti revealed.

Among the strategies that the police have put in place to curb accidents and promote road safety are the new electronic permits which are said to be ready next month.

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