Police have cleared an ambulance driver who on Tuesday defied orders to pave the way for President Peter Mutharika’s motorcade in Lilongwe in a desperate bid to save a child on oxygen support.
The M1 Road between Kanengo and Area 18 in Lilongwe was closed to traffic to give way to the President’s Kasungu-bound convoy when the ambulance driver, identified as Mustafa Mthiramanja, defied traffic police orders. He was driving a mother and her child placed on oxygen from Area 25 Health Centre to Kamuzu Central Hospital at the time.
Witnesses said the driver’s conduct apparently angered traffic police officers who later summoned him for questioning at National Police Headquarters at Area 30 in the capital city.
But National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera yesterday denied that police arrested the driver. He, however, said the driver broke traffic regulations.
He said: “We did not arrest him, but we called him for guidance. We wanted to tell him that what he did was not right according to laws. So, he will not be charged with any offence.”
Section 123 of the Road Traffic Act provides that vehicles are supposed to pave the way for a presidential convoy. The law also stipulate that emergency vehicles, including ambulances and fire engines, should be given right of way when responding to emergency situations.
The ambulance driver’s heroics sparked debate on social media platforms, with most contributors commending the driver’s action as life-saving.
Yesterday, Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe also backed the driver, saying he did the right thing in the circumstances to proceed with the patient to the hospital despite the law requiring him to stop when the President is passing.
He said the driver demonstrated competence in adhering to ethics that demand him to serve a life first than following the law which can be repealed.
Jobe also stressed the need to give ambulances the right of way when undertaking emergency errands.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is contesting for the presidency on UTM Party ticket in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, is also on record as having said presidential motorcades tend to inconvenience people; hence, pledged the need to revise how they operate.