Any death or serious injury on Zambian roads should be avoidable. Nobody should assume that such incidents are an inevitable consequence of road transport, and all members of society have a contribution to make to reduce the likelihood of road traffic collisions. Each collision can potentially have tragic consequences for those involved and their families, and the economic impact is also well documented.
The Zambian Road Safety Trust (ZRST) is a road safety non-profit organisation that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. ZRST promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community and school education and supporting families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury. We are committed to supporting the Zambian Government to improve road safety and reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Zambian roads.
We are compelled to write this letter because unlike the late president, His Excellency Michael Chilufya Sata, we have not heard from any presidential candidate their commitments or policy to reduce road traffic accidents regardless of the fact that Road traffic accidents are now the third killer in this country behind Malaria and HIV/AIDS. We are constrained by the unprecedented killings of road users through road crashes which to a large extent, have continued to claim innocent lives unchallenged. We are aware that in cases of air crashes, voices are raised high from the presidency to the market square. Our road accidents statistics do not need much mention because we all know the magnitude of the challenge confronting us. What we need now are solutions, and that is what ZRST have sought to do through this letter to you the candidates.
While huge revenue are generated from road users annually by Government without adequate protection of their lives amounts to corruption which the present government abhors. We are concerned about the rampant killing of innocent road users through road traffic accidents without the government holding any government officer responsible despite huge revenue allocated in road fees, this needs to be responded to by government at all levels.
For the purpose of effective performance, credibility and devotion to duty, the Zambian Road Safety Trust strongly advocates for a new Road Transport Policy which should take in to account the current increase in vehicles, accidents and the new roads. We believe that current Road Transport Policy which established Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA), Road Development Agency (RDA) and National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) in 2002 by the Government of Late former President His Excellency Levy Mwanawasa, 13 years down the line is no longer functional.
The recent killing of about 27 people in Mpala, Northern Province in November 2014 is still very fresh, those death, along with other similar ones could have been prevented or avoided, if we had a new timely Policy to reduce road carnage. As we write this letter, we know that many more innocent people are murdered on our roads from road crashes which could be prevented. ZRST believes it is critical that clear leadership is provided from candidates by setting out their actions on reducing road accidents. The ultimate responsibility lies with the new President and his government for making our roads as safe as possible.
We demand for a new Road Transport Policy after 20th January 2015 which should protect all of us. We believe that a new Road Transport Policy should include or be inherently tied to a clear strategy for road safety, so far the current Policy fails to provide a robust long-term strategy, vision or leadership. This failure is encapsulated by the present lack of realist and ambitions national road casualty reduction targets. ZRST believes such challenging targets are urgently needed (broken down into road user groups, age groups, and casualty severity), working towards a ‘vision zero’ style vision that means we ultimately work towards no deaths or serious injuries on Zambian roads. There is international evidence that setting casualty reduction targets in itself accelerates and aids casualty reduction.
The new Road Transport Policy must also include a strong focus on improving the safety of people on foot and bicycle, enabling more people to walk and cycle in safety, and encouraging modal shift away from personal motor vehicle use towards other public transport means. This is crucial given the vulnerability of these road users, their level of casualty involvement, and the wide-ranging social and economic benefits that can be delivered through improving their safety, reduce traffic congestion and enabling more people to use public transport. Improving the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, including establishment of lower standard speed limits and safe routes provides a key example of how road safety goals can and should be aligned with other wider political objectives such as reducing congestion in areas highly congested such as Kitwe, Ndola and Lusaka.
1. the need for a specific road safety target to reduce non-motorised road casualties;
2. the need to improve the quality of road casualty data collected by the police highlighting groups, gender, age, place, type of vehicles, etc;
3. the need for road safety campaigns to highlight the danger of causing accidents;
4. different views on the need for more traffic signs to highlight the possibility of danger on the roads;
5. the need to look after victims and their families, etc.
Road safety is a cause we must fight for daily with unrelenting determination and vigour.
With best wishes,
ZRST Board Chairman
Tel: 00 26 0961475610