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Minister Uwihanganye roots for synergy in curbing road accidents

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Kigali: The Minister of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure in Charge of Transport, Eng. Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye challenged owners and heads of public transport companies to evaluate and follow up their drivers as means to ensure maximum road safety standards and prevent accidents caused by reckless drivers.

Flanked by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K Gasana, the Minister made the remarks while addressing over a hundred representatives of public transport companies and cooperatives during a meeting held at police headquarters that aimed at mitigating road accidents.

Statistics released during the meeting indicate that 2607 road accidents were recorded between January and September this year. Among those 66 percent involved commercial motorcyclists.

177 fatalities and 345 injuries were recorded from the total accidents that happened within the nine months.

This prompted the Minister to express deep concerns saying that, “We can’t afford to lose a single life over the recklessness of some people. By the time you are given a certificate as a public transporter, know that you have been handed serious responsibilities that involves human lives.”

He farther pointed out some of the malpractices within public transport sector where he cited low payments to drivers, abnormal targets that companies set for drivers and abuse of traffic rules.

“Some companies give their drivers a target of ensuring the drive 800 passengers a day. In an attempt to achieve that, they over speed and violate traffic rules which eventually leads to accidents. Also a driver whose contracts indicate a net pay of Rwf 190,000 may eventually take home Rwf50,000 because of failure to meet the abnormal targets,” said the Minister of State.

The ration of buses to passengers is 1:120.

The Minister called for collective efforts to ensure that issues within transport companies and commercial motorcycle cooperatives are streamlined in the interest of the passengers.

Also Police records indicate that bus accidents constituted 24 % of the number of accidents recorded in the last nine months while lorries and trailers constituted 10 % and 5% respectively.

In his address, IGP Gasana said; “We have managed to secure Rwanda from enemy threats; we can't afford to lose lives of our people to road accidents.”

The police chief called on public transport companies and cooperatives to always ensure quality service is delivered in their trade.

He pointed out that human behavior is the major cause of road accidents saying that; “You should know the personalities, behaviors and integrity  of the drivers before you hire them as means of avoiding hiring reckless drivers…Strategic planning and effective administration will boost business and mitigate road accidents.”

The Police Chief went on to urge them to lay strategies to ensure road safety and management of their vehicles and drivers.

“Rwanda’s main resource is its people that’s why we should collectively ensure we protect Rwandans from any harm however minor is perceived…in this context we may consider asking for suspension of transport companies that record a high number of their vehicles involved in the accident,” he said.

During the meeting  the Commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety, CP George Rumanzi, presented the status of road security, with most accidents causes by reckless and drunk-driving, and overspeeding, among others.

Among the key issues heighted include disorganization in taxi- moto cooperatives, lack of background checks and supervision of drivers, fraudulent exchange of vehicle parts in quest for a road worthiness certificate – an issue common in Fuso trucks, drivers working overtime and poor speed governor systems among others.

The proprietor of volcano express Olivier Nizeyimana who also doubles as the president of the Rwanda Association of public Transporters (ATPR), said it’s a shame to transports that people lose their lives in their hands. He concurred that majority of the accidents are caused by the behaviors of the drivers and pledged to enhance means and streamline the business.

Among the measures taken during the meeting include reorganizing commercial motorcycles cooperatives, frequent background checks, trainings and testing drivers and strict enforcement of road traffic rules. (End)


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