The Malawi Police Service (MPS) says it has recorded 67 road accidents which resulted in 16 deaths during Easter holiday, a rise from 44 accidents but same number of fatalities during the same period last year.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera in an interview yesterday attributed the increase in accidents to reckless driving, citing drivers’ impatience on the road, over speeding and drunk-driving.
He said the Southern Region registered 38 accidents, the Centre had 21, the East had seven while the North recorded one.
Said Kadadzera: “Police put in place measures to help prevent road accidents but some road users chose not to adhere. It is our plea that all road users follow traffic rules and regulations.”
He added that during this year’s Easter, police arrested 445 motorists for overspeeding.
One of the Southern Region accidents led to the death of two Mzuzu University (Mzuni) nursing students who were hit by a Toyota Pymia as they walked on the side road of the M3 Road on Saturday near Zomba Central Hospital.
Zomba Police Station spokesperson Patricia Sipiliano confirmed the death of Semion Kasulo, 22, and Moses Khoza, 26, on Saturday evening.
She said the police have since arrested the driver, Elita Kawale Banda, 35, who will appear in court soon to answer charges of causing death by reckless driving.
The country has in recent years seen an increase in road accidents, particularly during holidays, despite police’s commitment to step up efforts in ensuring adherence to road rules and regulations to reduce the risk of accidents.
During the 2015 Easter holiday, police recorded 63 road accidents and nine deaths while in 2014, there were 30 road accidents and six deaths.
In 2017, police recorded 15 road accidents during Easter holiday where seven people died whereas 13 accidents were recorded during the same period in 2016 where six people died.
The Directorate of Road Traffic Services and Safety (DRTSS) was not available for comment.
But commenting on the matter, road traffic trainer and consultant Harvey Mjojo attributed the rise in road accidents to increased vehicle population and lack of public information on road safety.
He said: “We used to have road safety tips on radios, television and even newspapers but they are no longer there. We used to have civic education in our primary school curriculum but I still do not understand why such an important subject was stripped off from the syllabus. Government needs to seriously look into this matter.”
Mjojo further said the proliferation of automatic vehicles is contributing to road accidents as most people drive such vehicles without going through proper training.
He cautioned motorists to be disciplined on the road traffic, and also urged traffic police to intensify traffic patrols and government to invest more in speed traps.
In its 2018 end of the year report on traffic accidents, MPS reported that road traffic accidents in the country had risen from 3 626 in 2017 to 4 879 in 2018, representing a 35 percent increase.
Annually, road accidents kill 1.25 million people and injure 50 million.