Editor's Comment

Follow road traffic rules

Minister of Home Affairs Jack Mwiimbu

OF LATE there have been concerns about rising incidences of road accidents in the country, with some people attributing them to the absence of traffic police officers on the roads following the abolition of traffic snap checks by Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Jack Mwiimbu. The recent carnage on Great North Road in Lusaka where 11 people died when a truck hit into a Rosa minibus is one case in point which has heightened fears of more accidents due to lack of patrols by traffic police. It can be argued that police traffic checkpoints were unnecessary, but that does not invalidate the fact that many drivers have thrown caution to the wind on public roads. Many motorists, especially public minibus drivers, are not observing road traffic regulations, taking advantage of lack of police presence. If in the past they did not obey traffic lights, this time around most minibus drivers break the rules with impunity, leaving everyone agape at their nuisance. Although the minibus crew have a bigger share of the blame for notoriety on the road, it can also be said that other motorists have taken their impatience on the roads too far. This collective madness among drivers on the road has put the lives of pedestrians and commuters at risk as their human rights are not respected. What is more worrying is the safety of children who cross roads every day to and from school as most drivers do not respect pedestrian crossings. The plight and risk of other road users is compounded by lack of walkways on some roads, forcing them to compete for space with uncaring drivers.  The reminder by the minister that the abolition of snap checkpoints did not imply tolerating lawlessness on the roads should be taken seriously by all motorists. The minister said in a statement released yesterday that it has come to his attention that motor vehicles that are not roadworthy, unlicensed drivers and lawlessness on the roads have become a major concern. It is disappointing that after their cries of corruption among some traffic police officers before the ban of snap checkpoints, drivers are failing to control their behaviour. Sadly, some motorists even have the audacity to bully traffic police officers when they see them on the road. Motorists should bear in mind that traffic police officers are still very much useful to them and should be given the respect they deserve as public workers. Police officers should not be demonised because they play a crucial role in safeguarding our lives on the road. We urge citizens not to hurl insults at traffic police officers because while they no longer mount snap checkpoints, they remain important to their lives. The Government’s decision to ban snap checks should not be used as a chance to flout road traffic regulations. Motorists must be responsible for their own safety and that of other road users to reduce accidents in the country. We also urge the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to continue sensitising motorists and the travelling public alike about the importance of safety on the road. Measures should be put in place to ensure that vehicles which are not roadworthy and unlicensed drivers do not move around streets. We commend the minister for urging traffic police officers to enhance motorised patrols to manage speed among drivers and control traffic at busy points. There is need to instil a sense of fear among drivers who have taken the ban on checkpoints as freedom to break traffic rules. We urge public transporters to join hands with police and RTSA to bring back sanity on the roads in the absence of police snap checks. Motorists should take advantage of Government’s decision to stop corruption among some traffic police officers to show that even without police presence on the roads, they can follow the law. Drivers should not allow the country to be wrapped in trauma because of avoidable road carnage like the one which claimed 11 lives on Great North Road recently. The Government is often stretched out of budget to take care of funeral needs of victims of road accidents. The loss of breadwinners to traffic accidents leaves an indelible scar on the future of families, who in most cases are not compensated. So, we implore all motorists to follow traffic rules for their own safety as well as that of the public to reduce road traffic accidents in the country.

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