Member of Parliament (MP) for Chitipa South Werani Chilenga has asked government to check rising road carnage by introducing tough new road and water transportation regulations which may have prevented deaths and injuries in most of the accidents.
Chilenga made the demand in an interview yesterday in reaction to several road accidents which occurred at Rivirivi in Ntcheu, Magalasi in Blantyre, Nkando in Mulanje and Chikangawa in Mzimba over the past three days.
He said: “I understand about 14 people died and dozens were injured in these road accidents. This is a wake-up call for the government to implement the tough new regulations Parliament passed through a motion I tabled about a month ago.
“When we were debating the motion in Parliament, all MPs showed concern over the chaos and carnage on our roads. The tough new regulations were to curb this lawlessness and had the authorities been enforcing the new regulations by now, I am sure some lives could have been saved.”
Chilenga was referring to his motion in which he asked that Section 237 of the Penal Code be amended to include water transport and that Section 237 (e) be put into force to punish offending drivers and boat operators.
Among other changes, in the wake of the passing of the motion, buses are technically banned from carrying standing passengers, while all the seated passengers should buckle up in seat belts.
All minibuses should observe sitting capacities and should operate strictly on designated routes, especially in cities, and must be identifiable by numbering and colour codes.
Concerning water transport, it was stressed that boats and other passenger carriers should be well serviced, must not overload and must have the capacity to be receiving weather updates from the Meteorological Department, to avoid encountering life-threatening adverse winds and related hazards.
But in his response, Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango said Chilenga should not be emotional about the matter, adding that his “very good motion” is appreciated and will soon be implemented, complete with additional checks and balances in transport safety and security.
He said government is determined to get to the bottom of these accidents and to effectively curb the frequent accidents. He pointed out that implementing the motion may be mistaken to be delaying merely because of legal and logistical tools which need to be put in place first.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed receiving reports that 13 people had died, and 10 sustained serious injuries in four accidents at Rivirivi Bridge, Nkando, Magalasi and Chikangawa over the weekend.
He expressed concern that over-speeding was the common cause of the accidents.