TRANSPORT and Communications Minister Frank Tayali has singled out the road stretch between Lusaka and Ndola as having predominantly recorded the highest number of road traffic accidents.

Giving a ministerial statement on the rise in the number of road accidents in the country, Thursday, Tayali attributed the accidents to poor roads, over speeding, drunk driving, among other factors.

“Over speeding, failure to judge distance with oncoming vehicles when overtaking, drunk driving and use of a mobile phone are major behavioral factors that contributed to these road accidents. Poor state of the roads: Allow me to single out the road stretch between Lusaka and Ndola. This road stretch is associated with high traffic volumes and has predominantly been recording the highest number of road traffic crashes. Due to having deep potholes and rutting, travel speeds have reduced to lower than the 70km/h speed limit. This has resulted in impatient driving, which has led to excessive speeding, improper overtaking, misjudging of clearing distance resulting in head-on collision crashes. Madam Speaker, Government is concerned with this trend and cannot allow this situation to continue unabated. When we noticed a spike in accidents around September 2021, I instructed the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to implement more stringent road safety enforcement programmes,” he said.

The transport minister highlighted some of the accidents recorded in 2022.

“Madam Speaker, the first two months of 2022 have recorded several fatal crashes that included among others, the following: On the 12th of January, at Kateshi, along the Kasama-Mbala road at around 07:30, a Van and a truck collided head-on as the driver of the van lost control of the vehicle. Two people were killed on the spot while three were seriously injured. Sadly, Madam Speaker, the cause of this accident was driver fatigue according to the Accident Investigation Report. On the 27th of January, in Pemba, at around 04:30, a Mitsubishi Rosa bus belonging to the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) and a freightliner truck collided head-on as the driver of the bus failed to keep to his lane. Thirteen people lost their lives while seventeen were seriously injured. Here too, Madam Speaker, according to the Accident Investigation Report, driver negligence,” he said.

“On the 5th of February, at Kafwimbi area in Isoka district at around 13:00, a minibus overturned. Two people died while three were injured. Madam Speaker, the cause of the accident was as a result of excessive speeding according to the Accident Investigation Report. On the 11th of February, at around 07:30 at Luanshya turn off along the Ndola-Kitwe dual carriageway, a small car and a van collided and two lives were lost. According to the Accident Investigation Report, the cause of the accident was human error owing to failure to stop at the junction. On the 13th of February, at around 19:40, along the Ndola-Kitwe dual carriageway, a truck driver lost control of the motor vehicle and plunged into the Kafue River.”

Tayali said the government was implementing some immediate strategies which would help curb the scourge.

“Among the immediate strategies being implemented to curb this scourge are:(i) Scaling up road traffic enforcement through combined motorized road patrols by the Zambia Police and RTSA in order to enforce the Law and Regulations issued by Government; (ii) Suspending of Drivers Licenses for road users that are perpetual offenders for over-speeding. (iii) Scaling up the mounting of mobile speed cameras to curb the vice of over-speeding; (iv) Scaling up road safety education using various media platforms in order to improve road user behaviour; (vi) Enhanced surveillance for long distance buses using the Global Position System (GPS),” he said.

“To mitigate accidents as a result of broken-down vehicles along the highways, Government through the RTSA has procured an additional Tow truck, to be stationed in Central Province; for quick response for clearing broken down trucks which cause major obstruction on the road. (viii) Government has released funds amounting to 4 million kwacha for road maintenance of various roads.”

Tayali said government intended to construct a dual carriageway between Lusaka and Ndola as part of a long term measure to curb the increase in road accidents.

“In the long term, the Government will endeavor to undertake the following: (I) Construction of a dual carriageway between Lusaka and Ndola. Meanwhile, we shall engage with the Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development and the Treasury that short term remedial works be undertaken on the roads; (ll) Amendment of the Road Traffic Act No. 11 of 2002 to introduce regulations such as probationary driving licenses and the demerit point system to change driver behaviour; and Liaise with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security in order for RTSA and the Zambia Police to utilize overhead cameras installed countrywide and enhance over speeding enforcement. Re-training of Public Service Vehicle (PSV) drivers,” said Tayali.

“With these interventions, we are optimistic that we will reverse the unprecedented rising trend in road crashes and fatalities. Most cardinal, Madam Speaker, is that people need to learn to regulate themselves rather than depend on the Government to regulate them. We need to change our behaviour as drivers and road users. Madam Speaker, I wish to urge members of the general public to assist the nation and themselves in achieving the country’s road safety agenda. I urge all motorists to please adhere to road rules at all times and exercise patience on our roads to save lives. I would also like to inform the House that we will as Government continuously review our post-crash care system so that we can avoid further loss of lives. May I take this opportunity to implore the general public to be more empathetic to crash victims and offer them first aid as opposed to taking social media videos.”