Shimbo Pastory and Johnson Mwamasangula
Dar es Salaam. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Status Report on Road Safety, road traffic injuries are the number one killer of people aged 5-29. Road accidents kill more than 1.35 million people each year, disproportionately affecting developing countries. In Tanzania, the latest figures from the World Health Organization indicate that road traffic accidents account for 6.12% of total deaths, with an actual death toll of approximately 18,054 per year.
According to a joint research project conducted by the World Bank Group and the Global Road Safety Facility, 57% of road traffic fatalities and injuries occur in the economically productive age group (15-64 years), with a male to female ratio of 2:1.
It is said that 605 out of every 100,000 people are affected by road traffic accidents. According to an analysis by the Global Road Safety Partnership (GSRP) and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), Tanzania loses about 3.4 percent of its GDP caring for traumatized victims and burying the wounded.
Towards the end of each year, the number of road accidents increases. It seems more reckless on the road, which coincides with the time when most people travel, which means more lives are at risk. Despite the efforts of the government and traffic police, this year is no exception. Among them, dangerous driving, driver negligence and motorcycles are the reasons for the highest accident rate in recent years.
Just recently, Geely Girls High School announced the death of one of its recent Form 4 graduates, a young girl named Jolista Josephti, who was killed near Mbezi on her way home from her graduation. Her mother and sister also lost their lives, and her brother is critically ill and under the care of medical professionals at Mloganzila Hospital. This is a family whose father died a year ago. Sadly, people lost their lives this way, and road users proved far less cautious and considerate.
Locally, every trip is unsafe, bodaboda risk everything possible, and bajajis are overloaded and unprotected. The bus was running too fast, and it was accidentally loaded and unloaded during the journey. Private cars enjoy an advantage on the roads and demand the same priority as the police, politicians, government officials, fire and rescue services, even during peak hours.
Broken, slow, no lights, doors that don’t close properly, bulging and worn tires, and some older trucks with one or no side mirrors are still on our major roads. Cyclists have neither right to the road nor safety, and pedestrians and people with reduced mobility are at the lower end of the ladder. We are all potential victims according to the vulnerable situations we find ourselves in at different times. At these various times, we are at the mercy of careless drivers. More than half of all road traffic deaths globally occur among vulnerable road users; pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
21 November has been designated as the Global Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. This special day was adopted in 1993 pursuant to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/5 as a tool in global efforts to reduce road casualties and to provide an opportunity to draw attention to the scale of the emotional and economic devastation caused by road accidents. It also aims to recognize the suffering of road crash victims and the support work done by rescue services.
In September 2020, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/74/299 “Improving global road safety”, announcing the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, with the ambitious goal of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and Injuries by 2030. The day is crucial in promoting evidence-based action to prevent and ultimately stop further road traffic deaths and injuries. This year’s theme is “Remember, Support, Act” and it’s our chance to follow the road safety rules and remember those who have lost loved ones.
Another dilemma is the need for appropriate medical, psychological, legal and financial support for road traffic victims and their survivors. To be sure, they got the bare minimum. The impact of a road accident can be life changing. No wonder some places get tired and immediately judge and punish careless drivers. We hear of cases of cars being burned or drivers killed as a result of hitting vulnerable road users, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. It’s what people do when they’re pushed against a wall by an unsupported system.
It should come to a point when we agree that fines are not enough and do nothing. Some people need to go to jail, some people should be banned from driving altogether. Otherwise people won’t learn. We need careful drivers. It is a pity that we entrust our lives to those who have been repeatedly shown to be incompetent, and we still trust them.
Statistically, low-income countries have a higher proportion of vulnerable road user deaths than high-income countries, partly because of the quality of care. However, the impact of accidents tends to be higher in low-income countries due to lawlessness. At the moment of the accident, people may find that many things have gone wrong beforehand.
Road traffic accidents have become a serious public health and economic obstacle in our country, and according to a 2021 study, the death rate from road traffic injuries is twice that of the global death rate. According to the World Health Organization, Tanzania has the 10th highest death rate in the world. Nearly 1,200 people died and 1,589 were injured in 1,594 road accidents between July 2021 and March 2022, according to the Interior Ministry.
Statistics show that despite the government’s efforts to implement road safety measures, road accidents have increased by 366, or 29.8%. Most of these accidents are due to reckless driving, defective vehicles and poor roads. Most road accidents occurred in urban areas, motorcycles accounted for 68% of accidents, and motorcyclists were the most affected users (32.9%).
As we commemorate the loss of life and victims of road accidents, this year the country launched the Tanzania Road Assessment Program (TanRAP) under the Ministry of Works and Transport with the aim of eliminating high-risk roads and curbing the death toll caused by roads every year. traffic accident. Tanzania is the first country selected under the UN Road Safety Fund initiative to implement the UNSRC ten-step approach to improving the safety of new and existing road infrastructure. At the same time, we need stricter legal procedures for road safety offenders and more road safety education for the masses from an early age.
Shimbo Pastory and Johnson Mwamasangula are social development analysts in Tanzania. e-mail: [email protected]