Malawi has recorded a total of 406 motorcyclist road accidents between January and June this year, representing an increase of 124 percent from same period last year, when 181 motor cyclist accidents were recorded.
So far, this year, 68 fatal crashes involving motorcyclists have been recorded, which claimed lives of 40 motorcycle riders with 44 getting severely injured.
In 2018, Malawi registered 56 fatal crashes which killed 28 riders and left 34 seriously injured.
Final 2018 road accident statistics by the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) show that the country recorded a total of 5 331 road accidents, which resulted in 1 275 fatalities while 921 persons were seriously injured and 3 287 sustained minor injuries.
The chilling revelations were made in Mulanje yesterday during commemoration of this year’s Africa Road Safety Day by DRTSS.
The day was commemorated under the theme: ‘Motorcycle Riders, Be Safe: Get Licensed and Follow Traffic Rules’.
Minister of Transport and Public Works Ralph Jooma, who presided over the event, described the statistics as both shocking and alarming, adding that road accidents are a drawback to the country’s social-economic development as more productive citizens are dying and more resources are being invested on treating accident victims.
He attributed the increase in road accidents to reckless driving, drink and driving, use of unroad worthy means of transportation as well as general increase in the motorist industry throughout the country.
“Accidents lead to disabilities, deaths, economic hardships at household level and consume a large chunk of the budget. Let me call upon all road users to make sure they are observant of traffic rules and regulations. All motorcycles should be registered, and all motorcyclists licensed,” he said.
He further said government is doing everything possible to reduce road accidents by, among other things, ensuring that all roads have shoulders for use by pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, increasing awareness and presence of road traffic officers, and enforcing a mandatory Highway Code knowledge test for professional drivers.
In his remarks, DTRSS director Francia Fergus Gondwe expressed concern that the most affected in road accidents are vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicycle peddlers and motorcycle riders.
“It is sad to note that there is generally lack of seriousness among road users in the country. Riders and passengers are not taking the responsibility to protect themselves by demanding helmet when riding on a motorcycle or refusing to be overloaded in vehicles,” he said.
On his part, acting director of health services at Mulanje District Hospital Dr Alinafe Kalanga said road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death in the district.
According to her, in the past financial year, Mulanje recorded 1 980 road traffic accidents with 48 deaths, representing a 24 percent increase from the previous year’s 1 200 accidents, with about 20 deaths.
She asked government to introduce Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on the Limbe-Mulanje via Midima Road, open a trauma centre, and a High Dependency Unit (HDU).
“Mulanje is a border district and the roads are always busy, in additional to the above requests, we would like to have Thuchira Health Centre upgraded to a rural hospital to ensure proper provision of treatment to accident victims thereby minimising injuries and deaths,” she said.
The Africa Road Safety Day is commemorated every third weekend of November.
DRTSS has since introduced a Toll free line 4040, where people can report careless drivers as well as road accidents.