Capital Buses proprietor Ishmael Kankara says the company is assessing the implications of President Edgar Lungu’s pronouncement directing Minister of Transport and Communications Mutotwe Kafwaya to remove all public transport vehicles without seat belts from the roads.

Last Tuesday, President Lungu directed Kafwaya to review laws relating to traffic offences to deter would-be offenders, saying that recent accidents had been caused by human error.

“I have been disheartened, lately, by the spiralling rate of accidents across the country. My firm belief is that accidents across the country happen due to mechanical and human error. In the accidents that happened in recent times, I have been informed that they were caused by human errors. I am, therefore, directing the Minister of Transport and Communications to review laws relating to traffic offences to deter would-be offenders,” President Lungu had said during the commissioning of the rehabilitated Great East Road in Chipata.

“I am also directing that public transport vehicles without seat belts for all passengers should be removed from the roads. I further urge the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to enforce the law that bans people from travelling at the back of trucks and vans. I hope these measures will help reduce the number of fatal accidents.”

Commenting on the pronouncement, Kankara said the company will seek to dialogue with the Ministry of Transport and Communications to understand President Lungu’s directive in detail and assess its implications.

“At the moment, we are still digesting the directive. Obviously, it is a directive from His Excellency, the highest office in Zambia. So, we are still digesting. I am sure we will have dialogue with Ministries. So, we are just waiting and, hopefully, the Ministry calls us for a meeting so that we find a way forward. I cannot talk much about what is going to happen and what is not going to happen, what I am simply saying is, when the Head of State gives a directive, we have to respect it,” Kankara said.

“We are respecting it at the moment; we are still digesting it; we are going to seek for dialogue and consultation with the relevant Ministries, especially the Ministry of Transport and Communications. We still need dialogue. Obviously, the technocrats might have a better opinion than myself so it is very important that we look in to it as a broader picture.”

And Kankara reiterated that the increased numbers of call boys hanging around at bus stations was negatively affecting the public transport sector.

“We still have challenges, the challenge needs to be worked on. We have been promised that they will be worked on. In fact, there was another directive by His Excellency on the bus stations that they should be run by the councils. The challenges are affiliated to that, obviously, so we were happy and we thank His Excellency the President to come up with the directive as well so that we can have sanity in the transport sector. Call boys and these criminals who are out there on the streets are like a cancer to the transport sector. So, that directive was very good,” said Kankara.