Fri, 09 Feb 2018 09:29:06 +0000
By EDWARD MWANGO
ZAMBIA has recorded a plus in the road safety perspective aimed at reducing road carnage, thanks to a concession agreement signed between the Ministry of Transport and Communications and Intelligent Mobility Solutions Limited, a Consortium of Kapsch International.
The US$500 million development, installation and management of the Road Safety Management System under a public private partnership, is aimed at providing advanced road traffic management solutions that seeks to improve operations of RTSA.
Under these progressive road traffic management solutions, RTSA would be able to spot erring motorists using vehicles fitted with CCTV cameras coupled with speed weigh-in-motion equipment to reduce overloading, a development that would make traffic police presence irrelevant.
The Road Safety Management System is completely self-sustainable and will not require funding from the government.
The project does not involve any disposal of state assets and will be implemented on a “Build Operate and Transfer” basis.
At the end of the concession term of 17 years, all the assets under the project will be under the state.
Speaking during the official project launch in Lusaka on Wednesday, Transport and Communications Minister, Brian Mushimba was optimistic that the project would create over 1, 500 direct jobs and over 4, 500 indirect jobs for the local people, especially young people.
Mr. Mushimba noted that the project would also broaden the presence of RTSA with the establishment of over 30 additional outlets with mechanized motor vehicle inspection equipment.
The 17-year concession contract would involve the enhancement of road traffic enforcement which were a prerequisite in promoting road safety and changing the bad road behavior for all road users.
“This PPP arrangement will provide safety management solutions and services encompassing CCTV cameras, vehicle inspection centres, border tolling facilities, high speed weigh-in-motion equipment to reduce overloading and road safety enforcement equipment,” said Mr Mushimba.
“During the last ten years, Zambia has experienced unprecedented development in various sectors of the economy with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth averaging six percent per annum.
“This growth has resulted in a ripple effect where the vehicle population has tremendously increased in the country,” he added.
He noted that with the increase in the vehicle population, the number of road crashes and fatalities had significantly increased.
“While government has embarked on a robust road sector development programme through link Zambia 8000 project to increase the capacity of the road networks to accommodate the increased vehicle traffic, the current road safety profile of our road network is still inadequate to guarantee safety among road users,” noted Mr Mushimba.
Mr. Mushimba also highlighted on challenges regarding the country’s safety profile whose statistics indicate that 85 percent of RTAs were caused by human error related factors such as drunk driving, over speeding and using a cell-phone while driving.
And Kapsch Group chief executive officer, George Kapsch noted that transport was the backbone of any economy saying a viable traffic system was inevitable.
Mr Kapsch pointed out that when the economy thrives, livelihoods of the general citizenry improve.
Meanwhile, RTSA chief executive officer Zindaba Soko said that the Road Safety Management System followed an integral road safety strategy with six main thrusts.
Mr Soko outlined that the system would include vehicle registration and secure number plate, vehicle testing, overload control and weigh-in-motion to prevent damage to roads, and cross border traffic management.
Zambia, like many other countries on the continent and worldwide, has not been spared to loss of lives as a result of Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs).
In the recent past, news media organisations persistently ran shocking headlines in which lives had been lost on most of the country’s roads in RTAs perpetuated mainly by long distance bus operators.
Mid-last year sorrow and grief gripped Zambians following the horrific RTA in which more than 14 people died involving Kapena Bus Services that occurred near Luangwa Bridge along Great East Road.
The driver of the bus reportedly lost control and the bus plunged into a ditch killing a number of passengers with others seriously injured.
This RTA was among the several cases recorded in 2017 and previous years which in some cases resulted in stiff penalties slapped on bus proprietors such as revocation of their operating licenses by the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA).
And according to traffic accident statistics for the third quarter of 2017 released by Zambia Police spokesperson, Esther Katongo, during the third quarter of 2017, 7, 832 road traffic accidents were recorded compared to the third quarter of 2016 where 8, 231 road traffic accidents were recorded.
This was an indication that there was a reduction in the number of road traffic accidents by 399.
The statistics further indicate that in the first quarter of 2017, 372 road traffic accidents were fatal accidents in which 497 persons were killed compared to 519 fatal accidents recorded in 2016 in which 635 persons were killed, showing a reduction by 138.
Seven hundred and eighty-eight accidents were serious road traffic accidents in which 1, 451 persons were seriously injured compared to 2016 in which 1, 841 persons were seriously injured.
Accordingly, there was a reduction in persons seriously injured in the third quarter of the year by 390 when compared to the same period last year.
During the same year, there were 686 slight injuries from accidents in which 2, 099 persons had slight injuries compared to 2016 in which 2,144 persons suffered slight injuries showing a reduction by 45.
Going by province, Lusaka recorded 4,140 road traffic accidents followed by Copperbelt with 1, 202 accidents, Central Province had 549, Southern Province had 502, Eastern Province had 424, North Western Province had 337, Luapula Province had 196, Muchinga Province had 194, and Northern had 152 while Western recorded the lowest number at 136 road traffic accidents.
During the third quarter of 2017, a total number of 434 children were involved in road traffic accidents as compared to 355 children involved in 2016 hence recording an increase by 79.
In the same period, 10, 849 motor vehicles were involved in road traffic accidents as compared to 13, 610 motor vehicles in the third quarter of 2016 translating a reduction by 2, 761.
Most of the recorded accidents occurred on Fridays and Saturdays and were attributed to excessive speed, misjudging clearance distance, failing to keep near side and cutting in.
Meanwhile, during the period under review, a total of 39, 334 road traffic offences were recorded and a total amount of K10, 600,731 was raised in admission of guilt fines.
RTSA has since attributed some of the major causes of RTAs as among them billboards mounted on the islands of the highways, use of second-hand tyres and negligence by drunken drivers.
However RTSA in conjunction with stakeholders, has been working tirelessly to ensure road traffic safety by promoting the methods and measures used to prevent road users from being killed or seriously injured.
Typical road users include: pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, vehicle passengers, and passengers of on-road public transport.
And one of the stakeholders on road safety is the Zambia Road Safety Trust (ZRST), a nonprofit making organisation that seeks to create awareness on road safety and contribute towards reduction in road traffic injuries and fatalities.
According to ZRST, Zambia, with over 2, 100 deaths in road crashes per year and 30 fatalities per 100, 000 residents, is one of the worst performing countries, as far as road safety is concerned.
Last year, ZRST members attended the biannual Fifth Global Meeting of Nongovernmental Organisations Advocating for Road Safety and Road Victims that was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 1st – 7th April 2017.
The Global Meeting was organised by the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety (the Alliance), and the Ministry of Transport of Malaysia, and hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
More than 200 road safety NGOs and stakeholders from 70-plus countries renewed their commitment to enabling governments and communities to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.
According to Road safety SDG targets approved at UN negotiations on August 3, 2015 by FIA Foundation a leading UN global road safety philanthropy, enabling innovative injury prevention programmes and pilot projects, road safety targets have been included in the final text of the new Sustainable Development Goals adopted by UN member states in New York.
As the country enforces this concession agreement, it is hoped that RTSA will take advantage of this much cherished opportunity in casting its net wider in their pursuit to reduce on road traffic accidents while taking into account measures aimed at achieving UN sustainable development goal on road safety by 2020.