Riled with an alarming increase of road carnage, the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) will start revoking, suspending or cancelling drivers’ licence of people found violating road traffic laws and regulations, Nation on Sunday has learnt.
The Malawi Police Service also wants to institute criminal actions for negligent drivers even in offence of exceeding capacity of public service vehicles.
As we revealed in our series that started on Friday, road safety levels have drastically gone down as accidents have tripled over the past five years, claiming an average of 1 300 lives annually.
This is also exacerbated by a corrupt and fraudulent system that churns out Kamikaze drivers, who have no regard of road safety regulations, and a scheme as revealed by Weekend Nation that uses stolen security paper to certify rickety vehicles roadworthy through parallel Road Traffic offices.
But DRTSS, which still believes that most accidents are a result of human behaviour, says Christmas is over even for professional drivers who take to the wheels as if they are participating in Formula 1 as the directorate will also start withdrawing professional driving permits for drivers of public service vehicles for over-speeding.
DRTSS spokesperson Angellina Makwecha told Nation on Sunday that offenders shall have their licences revoked, suspended or cancelled.
“Drivers of public service vehicles found overspeeding shall have their professional driving permit for passengers removed because they are putting a lot of road users’ lives at risk,” she said.
Makwecha said the directorate has intensified enforcement and awareness campaigns, to ensure that all road users follow road traffic rules and regulations.
The directorate, according to Makwecha, will soon introduce a toll-free line through which the public will use to report any traffic violations and appropriate action will be taken by the department.
“DRTSS is always concerned about the safety of every road user. We cannot afford to be losing more lives of productive citizens from crashes that are mostly being caused by failure of drivers to follow road traffic rules and regulations,” she said.
But the DRTSS cannot take the blame on negligence of drivers for failing to adhere to road traffic rules and regulations. National police spokesperson James Kadadzera says police have introduced a number of measures such as instituting criminal action against negligent drivers arrested for exceeding capacity of buses, for example, plus increased operations of traffic police.
“The other aspect is that we are asking the public to be more vigilant and report drivers who are driving recklessly to police officers. We are also empowering commuters that it is within their rights to demand that they seat within the regulated capacity of buses and caution the driver against over-speeding,” said Kadadzera.
Commercial Driver Rehabilitation Consultative Council executive director Phillip Phiri—a claimed defensive driving trainer with 30 years experience said the country has no strategic plan for road users and that drivers do not have adequate training.
“There is a need to categorise buses. We need to check the documents which the drivers have,” he said.
Phiri also blamed public vehicles owners for contributing to road carnage as they push drivers to maximise profits, ignoring safety measures for the vehicles.
Road Safety expert Chifwede Hara said there was need for stakeholders to come together on the way forward on the accidents. “Government alone cannot deal with this problem.
We need police, road traffic directorate, NGOs and other stakeholders to meet and come up with solutions to the problem,” he said.
Malawi Polytechnic senior lecturer in transportation engineering, Dr Witness Kuotcha, told Nation on Sunday that it would not be proper to generalise that all accidents that have been happening lately have the same causative attribute.
“Every accident might have a unique cause, though some may be caused by the same factors. In general, and Malawi is not an exception, accidents are caused by technical factors, for example,” he said.
Kuotcha cited vehicle defects such as tyre burst, poor road design, lack of traffic speed calming measures and pavement defects such as pot holes.
He also said some accidents are caused by environmental factors such as poor visibility haze, mist, fog, rainstorm and topographical challenges such as hills, mountains, deep valleys as well as heavy vegetation cover on or along roads.
Kuotcha also cited human factors like drunk-driving, visual impairment, overspeeding, reckless overtaking, sleepiness, fatigue/tiredness, poor knowledge of the highway code, inexperience, youthfulness, use of mobile phones while on wheels and sensation seeking attitudes of pedestrians.
According to data from Malawi Police Service as revealed by our sister paper The Nation, at least 30 577 accidents occurred between 2012 and 2016, claiming 6 492 lives.
It translates into 6 115 road accidents and 1 298 deaths per year, also representing a 174 percent rise.
Weekend Nation yesterday also disclosed that fraud and corruption at the DRTSS has reached appalling levels with the black market running a parallel office that issues road traffic documents after illegally buying security paper from the directorate at K4 000.
TIPS FOR MOTORISTS
- Ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy before you set on a journey l
- Always observe road signs and regulations.
- Always buckle up with safety or seat belts. Take note that lack and inappropriate use of seat belts and other safety restrains such as child seats are risk factors for fatalities and injuries resulting from road crashes
- Observe speed limit
- Don’t drink and drive