Feature

Road accident toll annually increases

Mampho Tsupane

Road accidents in Lesotho claim about 365 lives every year, Road Safety said this week during their annual road ansd safety campaign.

The campaign was meant to reduce road accident even though the numbers gets high every year and this year the campaign was launched at Maseru day high school.

 In In 2017 Lesotho recorded 4 521 accidents, while 2018 toll increased to 4 633 accidents.

‘Mathabo Tšosane traffic commissioner when addressing attendees said that the purpose of this campaign is to teach the nation and children to be careful and take care of themselves during this Easter holidays.

“Children always stay alert on the roads, you can see that there is high congestion of cars in Lesotho and less patience from drivers. I know that you children love taxis that play music very loud, I edge you to avoid the tendency of putting your hands through windows,” Tšosane pleaded.

Acting principal of the school, Mampina Mothae, cited that as the school they are concerned about children who attend schools in town because they are always involved in accidents.

“These children are more afraid of cattle than cars. They can run away from a cattle rather than a car. You children, you need to stop to agree when drivers of 4+1 ask you to enter their taxies when you are more than 20 in the car, that is dangerous in all levels,” Mothae instructed.

World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Thato Mxakaza quoted that they were happy to see that government is prepared to solve the problem.

“Our sustainable report shows that in 2030 we have to reduce 50% of accidents that occur on the roads. 2020 is supposed to be the last year that WHO campaigns for road safety,” he said noting that the decade plan of road safety started in 2011 and is to finish in 2020, yet the campaigns are not successful.

“Challenges that we are facing as a country are that when an accident occur drivers don’t know what should be done, and drivers in Lesotho are very ill mannered,” he said.

He mentioned that United Nations global safety week is scheduled to start on May 6 to 12 under the themed leadership for road safety.

Mxakaza cited that at times officials play a stumbling block to advocacy.

“Sometimes officials makes it impossible to teach people about road safety. I once saw a driver putting on a safety belt but a police officer next to him not doing the same. This makes you wonder,” he said.

Public works and transport representative, ‘Makopano Lebako said that they are working in collaboration with Lesotho National Insurance Group, Lesotho Red Cross Society, Police and the army when they embark of the district campaign to maximise the and popularise information sharing for Easter and Christmas holidays.

 She pleaded with drivers to reduce their speed and adhere to legal limits.

 “Not only taxi drivers but every driver. Fasten your safety belts, use your mirrors and use the stop signs because they are very important. Please people and you children stop throwing things through the windows,” Lebako said touching on the issue of cleanliness.

Nkekeletso Makara, CEO road fund who noted his organisation is in charge of road safety funds showed that the campaign has not yielded any positive results.

“We have not seen the impact of these campaigns because the accidents are not yet reduced. In this financial year of Road Fund, we wanted to increase the money we are giving the campaign but we did not because accidents still occur at a high rate. If we see a positive impact we will give more money,” he said.

Senior SAPC, Janki Hlaahla noted that among the work they assigned to, is to monitor roads, to make sure that everyone is safe, a driver, pedestrians and also animals.

“From January till now there are 151 road accidents, 92 deaths and 56 animals recorded,” Hlaahla said urging children to refuse to enter a car if a driver is drunk.

“Refuse to enter a car or a taxi if it is full, even if he will reduce your fair. We will make sure that all drivers use their safety belts as supposed to.

“Drivers please make sure that your cars are in good conditions before you take long journeys. Give pedestrians a chance to gross roads.”

He urged law enforcing institutes to review the currently used traffic act of 1981.

“We edge that this law of 1981 we are using be revisited again because it is very old and does not cater for our roads right now.

“Drivers use that law in court when charged and that give them a free pass because it is very lenient on them. There are also drivers who have licences yet they cannot drive and this cause accidents all the time and people’s cars get damaged,” said Hlaahla.

Lesotho defence force commander lieutenant Rankhone said that they have realised that Easter is a time when people go to their homes in multitudes, and it is time when people make parties and causes accidents.

“Nowadays cars are easy to access as they are cheap, so everyone wants to use their own car which causes congestion on the roads, and people do not have patience for one another. No one has a right to road than the other,” said Rankhone.

High court magistrate Moliehi Makhetha mentioned that if people do not understand they will go to prison.

“Statistics records high numbers on road accidents,” she said noting that the campaigns are not meant to get people arrested just so they can be imprisoned, but to extensively raise enough awareness of road safety.

“We also edge that this old law should be changed so that we can charge people heavily,” said Makhetha.

Thabo Motoko Principal Secretary who spoke at the event noted that they wish to have the parliament opened so that they can revisit the ‘outdated’ law.

Deputy minister Mokherane Tsatsanyne said that the government will not defeat this problem alone but with the help of everyone.

“Slogan for this campaign is PROTECTION TO ALL, DRIVERS AND PEDESTRIANS. It is very unfortunate that our roads are a danger to people. This is a problem of the whole nation and not just the government,” Tsatsanyane said.

He added, “In 2017 there were 4 521 accidents, and in 2018 there were 4 633 accidents. The numbers do not decrease but increases every year,” Tsatsanyane noted.     

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