Government renews commitment in ending road accidents

Lilongwe, The Ministry of Transport and Public Works has renewed its dedication in providing safe transport system in the country in order to reduce road accidents that have in 2017, recorded the highest number in contrast to the recent years.

Principal Secretary in the ministry, Francis Chinsinga made the remarks Friday after officially opening the 9th Joint Transport Sector Review Meeting at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe which was financed by the African Development Bank (ADB).

The annually held meeting was aimed at reviewing and taking stock of how the MoTPW has performed in regard to its Action Plan for the year ending 2017. The meeting was held under the theme Arrive Alive: Promoting Transport Safety in Malawi.

We are going to channel our efforts towards reducing these accidents across the country by enhancing safety awareness and infrastructure improvements.

These include trying our best to develop our roads by maintaining those which have potholes and constructing new standard roads to make sure people drive safely, he said.

Chinsinga said some of the efforts already put in place include dualisation of city roads and the introduction of mandatory Highway Code knowledge test for professional drivers.

He revealed that most of the accidents that have occurred in 2017 have been categorized into the Avoidable Category. This, he said, means if drivers involved had taken extra care by observing speed limits and driving roadworthy vehicles; some of the accidents could have been avoided.

As such, he said, his ministry will increase safety awareness campaigns to make sure all vehicles and drivers on the roads of Malawi are roadworthy.

We have seriously strategized on the issues of vehicle inspection because most of the vehicles that are involved in road accidents are not roadworthy. Government has already given us a go- ahead to increase the number of vehicle inspectors on the roads.

Also, one key area is the inspection of actual drivers to make sure that the holders are indeed experienced to carry passengers and goods, said Chinsinga.

He however bemoaned financial constraints, saying it is one of the setbacks in achieving what he described as excellent plans on their yearly action plans for the ministry which he said could help end some of the challenges faced on the roads.

In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer for Malawi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Chancellor Kaferapanjira who represented the private sector, said some larger trucks belonging to private operators are involved in road accidents due to improper vehicle maintenance resulting from high expenses incurred when trying to service the trucks.

He said this is because private track operators pay heavy taxes when trying to import spare parts for their trucks.

Currently, spare parts and other transport equipment for larger trucks attract very high duty, unlike the pickup tracks. As such, a lot of track operators tend to use the same old spare parts.

This is one of the reasons some larger trucks may not be roadworthy and are contributing to the unfortunate accidents that we are witnessing as a country,’ he said.

Kaferapanjira then highlighted need for government to consider removing these levies in order to reverse the situation.

However, he bemoaned reservations on the part of the Ministry of Finance to remove taxes, saying the ministry says it is never sure as to whether the imported spare parts would be used for their intended purposes once in the country.

But there is a very easy way out of this because they can track any truck operator who imports these spare parts to check on what the spare parts are being used for, he said.

Benson Nkhoma, Officer in Charge for the African Development Bank in Malawi said ADB is fully involved in supporting government of Malawi.

According to him, some of the projects ABD has been involved in include construction of the bypass road in Lilongwe, Mzuzu- Nkhata Bay road, Liwonde – Mangochi road, two one-stop border posts between Malawi and Zambia and Malawi and Mozambique.

We have also funded some feasibility studies from Ntcheu-Tsangano – Mwanza road [such] that the feasibility studies and preliminary designs are ready, said Nkhoma.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA