Zambia Road Safety Trust (ZRST) says government should explain to the victims and the families of the dead victims the decision to lift the ban imposed on affected bus operators by the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA).
The Minister of Transport and Communications Hon. Kapembwa Simbao has with immediate effect lifted the suspension of Bus Operating Licenses for WADA CHOVU, Mazhandu Family Bus Services and Mr Aubrey Membe Bus Services which RTSA suspended following the fatal crashes that left 31 people dead and many others serious injured.
Zambia Road Safety Trust Chairman, Daniel Mwamba said:
“The Honourable Minister should give a clear explanation why he has lifted this ban and assure citizens of their road safety. A road death is not like a normal death. It is a violent death – as violent as murder, and like murder, totally unexpected. The bereaved need help, support and assurance that their suffering will not be repeated.”
The ZRST is aware that inappropriate speed contributes highly to road crashes in our country ‘excessive speed’, when the speed limit is exceeded. In 2015, over 2000 people were killed. The bus drivers who are travelling at inappropriate speeds are more likely to crash and their higher speed means that the crash will cause more severe injuries, to themselves and/or to other road users. Inappropriate speed also magnifies other driver errors, such as driving too close or driving when tired or distracted, multiplying the chances of these types of driving causing an accident.
Road fatalities, injury and trauma have significant impact not just on the people directly involved but on their friends, families and communities. The estimated annual economic cost of road crashes in Zambia conservatively sits at 1-2% of our GDP. The cost includes delays and disruption to all users on the road networks, loss of productivity and the diversion of health resources to these avoidable events. However, it is social costs that are most significant as the loss of lives; personal pain and trauma have lasting impact on victims, families and communities.
And NAREP has released the following statement:
NAREP PRESS STATEMENT ON GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE WITH RATSA OPERATIONS
We are very saddened that within 48hrs the government was quick to lift the suspension of road service licences for the three operators which were suspended.
This is a clear sign of interference by government in the operations of RATSA. We therefore want to know what interest government has in this matter because their quick action to reverse RATSA decision is very suspicious and does not in any way promote road safety.
RATSA has a mandate to regulate and issue licences to these operators. If government continues with interfering with RATSA operations, more lives will be lost. They should not politicise even the safety of the people.
We therefore commend the board and RATSA management for the action they took and the work they are doing to reduce these road carnages where a lot of people have lost lives. The government should therefore stop taking politics to RATSA so that they can operate independently.
We are very aware that the accident is caused by an individual driver but the operator has a duty to maintain a good safety record. If we start separating a driver from operators, it will mean that drivers will behave as they wish since they are charged alone and operators will not care for peoples safety as they will know that only the drivers will be charged and they will remain operating freely. This is the reason RATSA is mandated by law to regulate both the driver and the operator and the two cannot be separated.
Mkushi North Aspiring Candidate
21st April, 2016