Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Police launch road safety drive

By: Times Reporter
IGP Gasana paints a zebra-crossing at the launch of the road safety drive in Musanze District yesterday. Courtesy.
The Government is reviewing laws on road safety to toughen penalties against traffic offenders whose behaviour continue to cause fatal accidents, the State Minister for Transport, Eng. Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, has said.
State Minister in charge of Transport Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye painting a zebra crossing in Musanze to launch the road safety campaign.
The minister was speaking yesterday in Musanze District at the launch of a road safety campaign. The launch brought together hundreds of road users, including motorists, cyclists and motorcyclists as well as students and residents.
The month-long countrywide campaign is organised under the theme, “Know and Respect Traffic Rules to Save Lives.”
“The Government is constructing more roads, but it’s one thing to have good roads and another to keep them safe. We are not constructing roads to kill people, but to improve the livelihoods of the people,” said Uwihanganye.
Last week, Rwanda National Police (RNP) held a meeting with partners, including policymakers and transporters, and resolved, among others, to revise road traffic laws to criminalise fatal accidents, ease the process of withdrawing driver’s and operational licence, including those of transport companies or individuals caught in life-threatening traffic offences.
The current law specifies a maximum of six months in prison although majority traffic offenders easily challenge the law in court with financial penalties almost the only available option.
Terminating or suspending a driver’s licence is also close to impossible in court, with only one person stripped of a licence in the last four years.
Reacting to the “reckless behaviour” of some motorists, Uwihanganye said: “Driving is not about holding a steering wheel, you are holding the lives of people with that wheel. You are transporting human beings whose lives matter to their families and to the nation.”
He said launching the road safety campaign shouldn’t just be an event but a reminder of the responsibility of every individual to make roads safer for all.
“Whenever you are in a vehicle and the driver is on phone or speeding, you have the right to stop them, get out and inform the Police immediately. That way, you would be saving not only your life but also the lives of others,” he said.
Accident statistics
About 23 per cent of total accidents recorded between August and October involved passenger service vehicles, Police said.
The minister also reminded motorcyclists and cyclists to reorganise their cooperatives and “make safety first.”
The road safety report also indicates that motorcyclists account for 18.5 per cent of fatalities while cyclists account for 17 per cent, in the last three months.
The Governor of the Northern Province, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, said the region will carry on with the road safety awareness programmes by holding talk-shows.
Governor Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi speaking during the launch of the road safety campaign
“Roads are part of safety and development programmes and it’s the responsibility of everyone to make them safe,” Governor Gatabazi said.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K. Gasana said prevention requires strong partnerships and individual responsibility to use roads safely.
“Road accidents are not a pandemic; it’s a result of individual behaviour that we cannot entertain. Don’t drive if you are drunk; regulate your speed; don’t use a phone while driving; use pedestrian pathways and zebra-crossings... be vigilant whenever you are using the road,” IGP Gasana said.
He called for stronger partnerships in raising awareness and fighting high impact crimes like human trafficking and abuse of narcotic drugs and child related crimes, including child pregnancy.
IGP Gasana painting a zebra crossing
The road safety month will be conducted in four phases; the first week will focus on educating pedestrians on road safety standards and how they can use roads safely.
Pedestrians comprise the majority victims involved in road traffic accidents accounting for 46 per cent of the fatalities registered between August and October.
Pedestrians also account for 21 per cent of the 254 serious injuries registered in the same period.
Meanwhile, the second week of the campaign will focus on motorcyclists followed by cyclists in the third week, and vehicles in the fourth.

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