On the morning of Saturday the 5th of September, the nation learnt with shock the death of 22 people in Rumphi District near Mchenga coal mine when the bus they were travelling in from Mzuzu to Karonga was involved in an accident. Several others were wounded and were rushed to Mzuzu Central Hospital while others were admitted at Rumphi District Hospital.
It is a fact that road accidents have become one of the major killers in the country apart from AIDS and Malaria. Road safety experts claim that road accidents in the country claim four lives daily. It is also reported that Malawi has the worst record of road accidents in the Sub-Saharan region.
It is painful and shocking to loose people who could have helped in the development of the country in these road accidents. Many others have been crippled and incapacitated by these accidents some of which are preventable. Much as I applaud the efforts being made to deal with these accidents, i think there is need to also concentrate on those that are affected by these accidents.
Every time an accidents occurs, their is much publicity in our press but very little is done afterwards. Apart from a few condolences that the affected families are given and the prosecution of those behind the accidents, nothing is done. But it should be understood that any life that is lost brings problems to the affected families. Bread winners, guardians, parents, wives, husbands and various important relations are lost leaving the bereaved families incapacitated.
At a workshop aimed at finding solutions to these accidents, it was suggested that a fund be setup to compensate familes who loose their loved ones and those who are injured in road accidents. Participants went further to suggest that a certain amount be added to the bus fares to cater for this fund. This is a welcome development and it will help lots of people who are affected by this accidents. But just like many other policies, this will take time to be implemented whereas road accidents will continue to take people's lives.
I know people whose lives have completely changed after being involved in road accidents. Some are completely crippled that they can no longer do their normal work. It is sad to learn that they have not received anything from the owners of the cars that were involved in accidents.
Recently families of two women who were killed in a road accident in Bangwe cried foul after the court ruled that they be paid a meagre amount in compesation. these are familes who lost bread winners in an accident caused by reckless driving.
I urge all the concern parties from the government to the passengers to do all they can to prevent these road accidents. Otherwise the ugly scenes of accidents we see in our televisions and newspapers are will continue to be part of us.