ROAD carnages are ruining lives of hundreds around the world pushing many people, especially in developing countries into abject poverty.
Over one million people die each year globally as a result of road traffic accidents.
It is reported that road carnages contribute two to three times more than deaths from infectious diseases in the world such as Malaria, HIV and TB.
Tanzania, with fastest growing economies in Africa, is experiencing a number of road accidents annually, according to Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP) Traffic Police Commander Ramadhani Ng’anzi.
SACP Ng’anzi says between March to October 2022, a total of 1,368 road crashes occurred at different parts of Tanzania, killing 1,368 and injuring 1,689.
In the corresponding period of last year, a total of 1,205 accidents occurred whereas 725 died and 1,011 sustained injuries.
Comparing the two periods, there is a slight decrease in the number of deaths and accidents. “As you can see there is a difference of 163 road accidents and 132 deaths…my target is to ensure that there is zero accident per day throughout 365 days. It is possible,” the traffic boss insists.
He added: “If all drivers follow road rules by not driving with high speed, avoid the usage of ear phones, drinking while driving, not crossing the red traffic lights, putting on their seat belts and all the like…we are going to succeed in this. I urge all drivers to adhere to the rules.”
Major causative of road accidents
Behind the figure of accidents reported in Tanzania, there are various factors identified by the Police Force as the major causes of carnage.
According to the latest information from the traffic division of the Police Force, the main causes of road crashes (95.38%) are human related factors categorized as:
(i) Dangerous driving
(ii) Driver negligence
(iii) Negligence of the bicyclists
(iv) Negligence of motorcyclists
(v) Excessive speed
(vi) Improper overtaking
(vii) Negligence of pedestrians
The Road Safety Ambassadors (RSA) Tanzania Chief Executive Officer, Augustus Fungo says “we think the devil lies in the details, i.e., how our drivers are trained and recruited, unsafe roads, and lastly, mechanical conditions.”
Regarding the situation, RSA is focusing on enhancing public awareness of road safety so that everyone takes their responsibility while on the road.
Furthermore, RSA enhances advocacy for the amendment of traffic laws and improvement of roads and motor vehicle road worthiness inspection.
As RSA boss explains roles of the organisation in averting the situation, Mr Ng’anzi says, currently, a good number of police officers have been stationed at key accident prone areas; some with and others without uniforms to monitor breachers of road traffic related laws and regulations.
“No bus will leave the stand without being checked, and for upcountry busses, we check if there are two drivers and also test their blood like employed two drivers as well as testing them to see the level of alcohol in their blood, if the result shows that they have taken alcohol they will not be allowed to leave. Our aim is to see passengers are in safe hands ” he stated.
A truck driver who transports goods within the East African Countries, Fadhil Mohamed Pazzi said the presence of non-qualified drivers, who have acquired licenses illegally are among the reasons for many accidents happening in the country.
“Apart from drivers who haven’t studied driving but just purchase the licenses and enter the road there are other who drive without any knowledge of their car, a driver must understand a full structure of his car starting from the engine, the brake system, the wind systems for those with large vehicles or trucks, lights and its reflectors, steering, tires have an expiry date…they must know all these things,” says Fadhili.
Chairperson of Safe Speed Foundation and a member of National Road Safety of Tanzania, Henry Bantu noted that most drivers’ jobs are not safeguarded by contracts hence their earning is not well known since there is no agreed fixed amount.
Therefore, they are being forced to drive for many hours hence they become tired and subsequently causing accidents.
He insists on the importance of training drivers on road safety while saying that if they all stand still and refuse to work beyond the time set by authorities’ chances of avoiding road fatalities will be big.
“Real organization of drivers should be institutionalized; it is important for them to feel comfortable when discharging their duties and have enough rest.
“Legally, a driver is required to drive his car for only eight hours a day, park the car, sleep for the first four hours, rest for an hour and for the second four hours sleep straight away. But in Tanzania, few companies comply with this law, most of them want the car to be on the road and packed only at night,” the truck driver added.
CURBING ROAD CARNAGES
Tanzania Government understands negative impacts of accidents and comes out with plans to avert the situation.
According to Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP) Traffic Police Commander Ramadhani Ng’anzi says apart from stationing police officers at different critical areas, cameras installed at various places of Dar es Salaam and Dodoma to track travers movement along the roads showed positive results.
He detailed, they have increased the number of police officers at key prone accident areas and also stationed officers who are in uniform and others without uniforms to inform them on those breaching traffic laws.
“No bus will leave the stand without being checked, and for long-distance buses will check if there are two drivers and also test their blood like your two drivers as well as testing them to see the level of alcohol in their blood, if the result shows that they have taken alcohol they will not be allowed to leave. Our aim is to see passengers are in safe hands ” he stated.
Mr Ng’anzi hinted that recently they did try to install cameras on various roads in Dodoma and Dar es Salaam as a study to see if it will help to curb road accidents where the study bore positive results.
Explaining the uses of the devices, he says the cameras uncovers mistakes committed by drivers including, over speeding, driving without fastening their seat belts, drunkard drivers and other motorists who breach laws.
“The process of installing cameras in most regions in Tanzania is on track. If possible, we will install them countrywide. We believe that this will reduce the number of accidents since drivers will be forced to adhere to traffic laws,” Ng’anzi said.
While the Police boss believes installation of cameras is a solution, The Road Safety Ambassadors (RSA) Tanzania Chief Executive Officer, Augustus Fungo thinks differently.
He says: “I don’t think speed cameras will help to reduce road accidents. There is no evidence from countries where cameras have been installed, but based on the geographic condition of our country, unreliable electricity and other factors I don’t think they will be of help.
Apart from installation of cameras, other factors explained by the stakeholders that will help to keep the number of accidents low includes improvement of road safety legislation, upgrading roads to a 3 star or above, enhancing vehicle inspection, and post-crash care will help curb the problem. However, for these to be implemented there is also a need to have a comprehensive road safety action plan.