Mangochi ponders on road accidents

Mangochi, It is Saturday, July 15, 2017 at Saiti Kadzuwa Village and at exactly 2 O’clock in the afternoon, a 10 year old Emily Laija breaths her last as she attempts to cross the Monkey-Bay � Golomoti Road in Mangochi.

Emily is hit by an over-speeding minibus. Together with her dreams, the standard 2 pupil from Chilumba Primary School dies on spot � just like that. On the other hand, the minibus speeds off towards Golomoti, indifferently to the departing young soul.

The minibus had eight passengers on board and the driver, Mr. Daniel Chimubwemba, fled and abandoned the vehicle, a Mazda Bongo, registration number LA 6963, at Golomoti Trading Centre without reporting to police, Deputy Public Relations Officer for Mangochi Police, Amina Tepani Daudi, tells the story, later.

Another day, Friday, July 21, 2017 at Mwambajira Trading Centre along Nselema � Chiponde Road, in Mangochi; at around 3 pm, a five-year-old Shawama Douglas, attempts to cross the roadDejA� vu.

Shawama’s little legs were not fast enough to get her to the other side before an over-speeding lorry from the direction of Nselema towards Chiponde took her life.

Just like Emily a week ago, Shawama is knocked off the road by the cruising Hino registration number M951, and her sprouting life comes to an abrupt end.

However, as if that calamity is not enough in its own sense, the speeding lorry also hits a pedal cyclist, Samson Manuel, 22, who sustains serious injuries. The driver of the lorry, Anusa Kaisa, 42, and his two passengers on the other hand escape unhurt.

Kaisa was over-speeding and he failed to control the vehicle. After hitting Shawama, the vehicle swerved and hit a male pedal cyclist and he sustained serious injuries while the 5-year-old girl died on the spot as she sustained serious head injuries, Daudi narrated.

As Shawama’s tragedy is sinking in among the bereaved at Mwambajira Trading Centre, elsewhere in the district on the morning of July 22,2017 another tragedy occurs.

Two young men, both students of Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI) St. John’s University in Mangochi, share jokes as they walk on the dirty gravel verge of the Liwonde � Mangochi Road, oblivious to what the next second would bring.

An over-speeding car negotiating an overtake swerves out of control and veers off to the gravel verge straight into the way of the unsuspecting students and the inevitable happens.

The accident occurred at around 10:00 am at Wanja Village along the Liwonde � Mangochi Road. One of the two students, Phunziro Matupa, 22, was severely hit and he sustained severe head injuries and he died whilst receiving treatment at Mangochi District Hospital while the other pedestrian escaped with minor injuries, Daudi explained.

Matupa was hit by a Toyota Voxy, Registration Number MJ 2145, driven by a Mr. Lucius Kazembe, 32, who was heading to Mangochi from Liwonde, according to Daudi, and the driver escaped unhurt.

Still in Mangochi, the nightmare continues as on July 27,2017 at around 7 pm, lives of two unsuspecting youths also came to an end when they are hit by a cruising minibus, Nissan Vanette, registration number BS 4417 driven by 35-year-old, Auckland Chipeta.

The two, a pedal cyclist, Alford Milanzi, 17, and his 14-year-old passenger, Zipa Hamera, both from Chigonere Village, TA Nankumba in Mangochi, died as they were riding along the Monkey-Bay � Golomoti Road.

They were hit from behind as the minibus tried to avoid a head-on collision with another vehicle from the opposite direction which did not dim its head lamps.

Hamera and Milazi sustained serious head injuries and they were both pronounced dead upon arriving at Monkey-Bay Health Centre, Police Prosecutor, Sub Inspector Laston Sabola, told the Mangochi First Grade Magistrate Court on July 31,2017.

For the month of July alone, Mangochi registered at least 10 road accidents with 7 deaths and 3 serious injuries, as at July 31, 2017 according to Daudi.

On a larger scale, the Eastern Region, which comprises Mangochi, Balaka, Zomba and Machinga, from January to June this year registered numerous road accidents.

According to Eastern Region Police Spokesperson, Inspector Joseph Sauka, 273 people were victims of road accidents in the Eastern Region between January and June 2017 compared to 204 people who were victims during the same period in 2016 representing an increase of 34 percent.

Whist the number of fatal road accidents decreased by four per cent during the period in question in the region, serious injuries increased by 12 per cent and victims with minor injuries increased by 100 per cent.

By district, Zomba remained constant with 44 accidents in 2016 and 44 accidents again in 2017 while Machinga experienced a 24-per cent drop from 38 road traffic accidents in 2016 to 29 accidents in 2017.

Balaka registered 48 accidents in 2017 from 41 road accidents in 2016, a 17-per cent increase, while Mangochi registered a 48-percent drop from 44 accidents in 2016 to 23 accidents in 2017.

But with 7 deaths due to road accidents already registered in the month of July alone in Mangochi, fears abound as to how many accidents would occur in the next five months if left unchecked.

The common causes of the road traffic accidents, according to the Mangochi and Eastern Region Police spokespersons remains reckless driving and drunk driving.

For these reasons, Mangochi and the region have intensified traffic checks and patrols round the clock and with this, 69 lives of girls from St. Michaels Girls Secondary School in Mangochi were recently rescued from the hands of a drunken bus driver.

Officers from the traffic section of Mangochi Police on July 27 intercepted an overloaded hired bus with the 69 students who were traveling to Dedza and Lilongwe respectively upon closing their academic year.

We intercepted the bus at around 6 am on the Mangochi � Namwera Road for overloading but as we talked to the driver, we realized that he was very drunk � in fact too drunk to drive safely to Lilongwe so we had to detain the bus at the station until another driver from Blantyre came at around 2 pm to drive the girls to their destinations, Inspector Dan Chitsulo explained, who is the second In-Charge for the Mangochi Traffic Police Section.

Moreover, the men and women in uniform are conducting several other activities to help reduce road traffic accidents in Mangochi and these include road safety radio programmes aired on Radio Maria and on Umoyo Community Radio, according to Daudi.

Besides, the Mangochi Police Traffic Branch has also been reaching out to the general public on road safety on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Television’s Good Morning Malawi Programme.

The police also meets bicycle taxi operators, locally known as kabaza at least once a week and they sensitize them on road safety measures.

Through our community policing branch, every week we conduct sensitization meetings in different communities with the help of chiefs and T/As. On 26 July, the police, jointly with Citizen Initiative for Road Safety (CIROS), held a sensitization meeting at St. Augustine 1 Primary School where drivers and bicycle operators were addressed on how to reduce road accidents in the district, Daudi said.

The courts are also doing all they can to complement the efforts being done to reduce road accidents. On July 31, 2017, Mangochi First Grade Magistrate slapped Auckland Chipeta, with a K600, 000 fine or in default serve a 24-month jail term for running over Milanzi and Hamera.

We have a number of completed cases whereby drivers were convicted and fined up to K1.2 million for reckless driving, and we hope that with such efforts, accidents may be reduced, Daudi added.

Until all such efforts are well coordinated and enhanced by all players, lives of Malawians, some as young as five and considered too young to die will continue to perish by careless drivers.

Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA