Columnists Features

Road accidents robbing us of family

Your Family Matters with PASTOR CHANDA
THURSDAY, August 28, 2015: My childhood friends have arrived from the United Kingdom to come and mourn the loss of their close relative who died in a car accident in Chisamba last week. Receiving them at the airport, I also shed tears as I thought of their terrible loss.
It was only the week before when again another friend, who is a pastor, lost a lovely daughter in a road traffic accident along the Lusaka-Mongu road. The young lady who died was about to commence her masters’ degree studies. She was any parent’s dream.
Sadly, we are fast reaching levels where fatal road accidents are nothing more than statistics. We talk about them as if we are referring to a broken window at a neighbour’s home – which can be replaced for a small fee. Yet these are irreplaceable lives.
Recently, in the United States of America (USA), an irate former employee of a media house went on rampage and shot dead a cameraman and a journalist who were covering a story live on television. He recorded the event himself (with a camera on his cap) and then posted it on Facebook.
This man then went on to shoot himself. Someone in the USA commented, saying that they had gotten so used to violence and people being shot dead that there was no sense of outrage in the nation. It was simply another statistic. It felt as if they were watching a movie.
I fear that this is what is happening to us as a nation with respect to road traffic accidents. We are so used to hearing about people dying in such accidents that we simply shrug our shoulders and say, “Too bad. I hope that does not happen to me.”
Even if the Road Traffic Safety Agency (RTSA) were to start giving us daily statistics of the number of people being killed through road traffic accidents it would only shock us for a few days or months and after that we would become immune to shock.
Remember how we used to feel shocked the first time we would hear of the numbers being maimed and murdered by Islamic terrorists in the Middle East and Africa? Remember how we used to feel outraged when we heard the numbers dying of AIDS among us?
Yes, the tens of thousands initially shocked us but our hearts are now numb to those figures. Ten thousand now sounds like 10. It is terrible! That is what would happen if RTSA gave us the traumatising numbers. We would soon get used to hearing such numbers.
What we need to realise is that each death is a tragic loss in a family circle. It is one loss too many. No one fell from heaven. We are all born from families and are deeply and emotionally inter-connected. We must do everything to stop such family losses.
The loss of one family member is like being amputated. Our legs and arms are so much a part of us that the loss of one of them incapacitates us for the rest of our lives. Yes, we learn to live without them but we are never the same. The loss is heart-rending.
That is the loss I saw in the eyes of my friends who arrived from the United Kingdom. It was the loss that I saw in my friends who lost a lovely daughter the week before. It is the loss that you see in the eyes of your neighbours when you visit their mourning home.
We need to do something about these losses, especially on our highways. Having roadblocks and speed traps is only one solution. It may prevent a few losses. We must work towards ensuring that the last road accident is the last one for a very long time to come.
We often pray for safety on the roads when a loved one is going off on a journey. Let us continue to pray. However, praying for something when we can take practical measures to prevent it is not enough. God expects us to take tangible measures about it.
Some of these measures will cost our nation a lot of money, but why save money at the expense of our citizens? Let us pay the price – even if it means us borrowing from other nations – so that we save the lives of our people and keep our families intact.
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