Lusaka, Wednesday, 13th July 2016. The Zambia Road Safety Trust has observed that the latest surge in increased loss of life on our roads is as a result of inadequate road policing, among other things.

According to the Zambia Police, yesterday, 12th July 2016, at least twelve people were killed on the spot including five females, six males and a child, whereas eight people suffered serious injuries when they were travelling along Mutanda-Solwezi Road. The incident is said to have happened, when the driver of a minibus lost control due to excessive speeding and went into the lane of oncoming truck. The Trust is also awake to the 47 lives lost in road traffic during this year four-day Trade fair holidays (two weeks ago) as against the 25 lives lost in 2015 during the same period.
From these fatal traffic incidents monitored, which have resulted in social and economic human suffering especially for those concerned, and the country at large, it is evident that the main causes were over-speeding, unlicensed and drunk motorists, and some avoidable journeys made at night.
What if the authorities we were able to arrest that unlicensed driver before he got to the wheel, what if the over-speeding vehicle was stopped in time, and why are we not able to apply enforcement timely and adequately? How many more lives are at risk before we fix this problem?
It’s correct to say that, with adequate and timely enforcement, many lost lives could be with us today and the pain of death and sorry could have been avoided, as road accidents are widely preventable, avoidable and predictable.
There is need to address this scourge urgently, fix the problem before the public gets tired of pointing fingers at already known causes- always saying sorry and becoming saddened can be an insult to the affected families.
Zambia’s current road safety situation is not something to be proud of. According to the American embassy in Zambia advisory note published online and addressed to its citizens quotes:
“Road safety (in Zambia) is an even more significant threat than crime. Vehicle travel is extremely hazardous under normal conditions, but particularly so at night and during inclement weather. Zambia has an average of 50 fatalities per 100,000 residents (the highest metropolitan rate in the U.S. by contrast is 17.8 fatalities per 100,000 residents). Defensive driving is a must. Traffic laws are routinely ignored by many local drivers, who often possess poor driving skills and/or training”.
To help address this problem, the Zambia Road Safety Trust among other interventions is appealing for urgent review of our current traffic law to grant RTSA more leverage to effectively patrol our roads and curb the increased road accidents, as it’s clear that the Zambia police patrols are insufficient largely due to lack of adequate resources, trained and available personal, and equipment, particularly in the face of increased road traffic. The Trust calls for increased funding and support to RTSA and the Zambia Police from all concerned stakeholders from public, private and even the civil society.
The Trust is also calling for partners to join it, in the implementation of its recently published Road Safety Strategy 2020, which aims at supporting government efforts to cut road deaths and injuries by 50 percent by 2020.
As we approach the general elections, the Trust is also deeply saddened that despite road accidents cited by the Ministry of Health, as one of the leading causes of death just behind Malaria and HIV/Aids, and a source of increasing alarming poverty levels especially among the bereaved families, the issue is not sufficiently addressed.
Daniel Mwamba
Executive Director
Zambia Road Safety Trust

Notes for Editors:

The Zambia Road Safety Trust (ZRST), a not for profit organisation, seeks to create awareness on road safety and contribute towards reduction in road traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities. Zambia, with over 2100 deaths in road crashes per year and 50 fatalities per 100,000 residents, is one of the worst performing countries, as far as road safety is concerned. The Zambia Road Safety Trust has a particular role to play in terms of personalising the Road Safety Issue (advocacy), creating a sense of urgency and generating a demand for safety from the public.