Minister of Information and Communication Technology Malison Ndau has advised travellers in Malawi to avoid boarding trucks, lorries and pick-ups that are designed for carrying goods, saying such vehicles risk accidents.
He said most road accidents happening in the country are a result of unauthorised vehicles known as matola in the vernacular.
Ndau said this yesterday at St. Augustine 3 Primary School in Mangochi district when he presided over the commemoration of Africa Road Safety Day and the launch of Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) website.
During the event, a DRTSS staff uniform and a Vehicle Load Strategy aimed at enhancing safety and service delivery to the public were also launched.
Ndau said road accidents silently kill more people than most illnesses such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and Aids.
“Every 30 seconds, road crashes kill one person. That is more than 3 000 lives being killed every day [globally],” he said.
Ndau added: “Again, economically, road accidents cost a country a lot. Road crashes in developing countries cost more than $100 billion yearly to national governments.
“Therefore, if we want to conquer accidents, let’s all use vehicles that are safe on the roads as well as finding measures of protecting road users.”
To this effect, the minister said government has embarked on several initiatives such as constructing and rehabilitating roads, treatment of accident black spots, upgrading of the Malawi Traffic Information System (MalTIS), and introduction of softer policies to encourage investment in public service vehicles.
Speaking in a separate interview, DRTSS director Jacques Manong’a said it is important as a country to set aside a day when we can remember road traffic accident victims in African countries.
Since 2013, the event is commemorated every November and this year it was observed under the theme: ‘Avoid Matola, Arrive Alive’ or ‘Pewani Matola, Kafikeni Amoyo’ in Chichewa. n