Ithink it’s in order to express apologies to all followers of this column for the repetitions to cover some technical blackout. It’s because this column is followed by a good number of people. Otherwise it could be thrown into LaNina rains, what with all the Maizegate stories. The reason was purely administrative.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, this is a professional column. I know that there are a lot of political ones around. The purpose of this column like I did state in 2014 when I was getting on board, was to educate, inform and, maybe, help develop some interventions.
And talking about interventions, I should today salute the Department of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) especially through its director, Bwana Jack Manong’a, for taking heed to the advice this column provided based on the environmental and health safety observations I and others observed on our roads.
There is a very good jingle being aired on our radios educating people on the dangers of using phones, whether calling, texting or the famous social media which some people engage in. This column wrote a specific article advising the esteemed director on the same. I am not sure whether the jingle is a direct response to the article or that while I observed this problem the Directorate had already taken note or both. I want to applaud the Directorate for the response.
I know that a good number of people do not have time to listen to radios and may not have been in ear contact with this jingle which prohibits phone use while driving, especially highlighting the dangers. And in case you missed the article please read some excerpts:
Today, I would, however, like to share with you a developing and growing bad behaviour happening on the roads of Malawi which has become increasingly irritating and is posing greater risks to drivers and even pedestrians. Texting and reading on cell phones.
Ladies and gentlemen, texting, reading messages and their related activities while driving have become so horrible on the roads of Malawi that I can easily hypothesise that a good proportion of the accidents we are having now may be related to this very bad behaviour.
It is very annoying nowadays to note a vehicle ahead of you driving very slowly and you wonder what is wrong with the car or the driver. When you attempt to overtake it, you will notice that there are vehicles on the other lane. As such you just trail the slowly moving vehicle. Now, when you become impatient or because you are rushing and that this person is unreasonably delaying you, you are tempted to still overtake even with the other side having some vehicles. Chances are that you will be involved in an accident. All because of this low reasoning person, busy texting and checking WhatsApp and Facebook. Unfortunately, the messages they text or read on the phones are nasty and vulgar.
Can the DRTSS please start enforcing this during the patrols they undertake on their powerful and well decorated Toyota Hiluxes? This nuisance needs to be tamed and it’s their responsibility. Otherwise expect a new wave of accidents on the roads due to people busy texting and reading WhatsApp and Facebook messages while driving.
After this article was published, one good lady sent her feedback which indicated her agreement and happiness with the opinions and she even provided projected road accidents that would happen in future due to phone use. She suggested that DRTSS could easily engage into Information Education and Communication on this issue. Kudos to DRTSS. n