Road accidents claim many lives in East Africa, mainly during festive seasons. Many other people are maimed for life.
The very interesting thing is that, most of these accidents could have been avoided.
In Uganda and Kenya, transport sector seems to be at war with itself, to the extent that public transport like Matatus and motorcyclists, are notorious for over-loading and speeding when traffic police are deployed in these cities.
What matters most to the Matatu and motorcycles crew is money; Human life comes secondary. Many ways, the crew go far by demanding transport fare before passengers take their seats.
In East Africa, accidents are due to the fact of carelessness, where drivers ignore road signs and traffic rules. Two options are our propositions to be taken by the East Africans in favour of their lives and for the dignity of their countries.
One, there should be concerted effort by all; passengers should boycott vehicles that speed, overload and poorly maintained.
Governments of East African should step-up against bribes and corruption mainly in traffic police for the love of the citizens. The police officer who exchanges human life for $1.2, he doesn’t only lower his dignity but also reduces himself to the uniformed beggar.
Actuary, regional police need reforms to serve the interest of the citizen not few people who want to enrich themselves with cash as citizens perish in accidents that many times can be avoided.
In Rwanda police officers who are caught in bribes are detained, charged and even declared unfit from the force. Also in this tiny country of Rwanda compared to the neighbours, seat belts are compulsory, and when drivers avoid them are sanctioned to fines.
This is a country where over-speeding, heavy loading and other related vices are exposed to heavy fines.
In contrary, Tanzania has implemented a number of transport development and maintenance programs and reforms aimed at enhancing the provision of an efficient, cost-effective and safe transport system in the country but little has changed to the common mwanainchi who uses public matatus.
Rwanda National Police strictness on values and professionalism has earned the force much trust from the citizens, and reputation.
Corruption and bribes and other related vices are always discouraged, and this has proven to be working since during festive season, only a few accidents were registered in Rwanda.
What appears to be funny in Burundi highways, one would think that traffic rules don’t exist at all and traffic police officers have never existed in the midst of armed force.
Though, we don’t want to claim that Rwanda police is holly and corruption free but, Rwanda’s quest for professionalism in police force has helped transport sector in the country to remain stable and focusing on serving the public interest than serving wealth.
Rwanda’s government, in partnership with private transport sector unions to set public fare tariffs have criticized by many claiming to be government’s hand to control the private business but, the move has helped the public from exploitation of the crew against citizens and respect passengers rights.
Our recommendations are that, East African countries should be learning from each other to have a better working system that serves the people.
The East Africa transport sector should learn from Rwanda to cab the losses of lives when it can be avoided.