In a social media debate, the public has expressed great concern over the high speed applied on the Presidential motorcade, saying much as this might be part of security, most of the country’s roads are already in bad shape and a moderate speed would not be too much of an ask.
This follows a fatal accident that took place on Monday in which a Military Police Toyota Landcruiser — that formed part of President Lazarus Chakwera’s convoy, which was on its way from Lilongwe — lost control and plunged off the road onto a Blantyre Girls Primary School fence adjacent to the Chileka-Magalasi Road.
Later the President visited the surviving soldiers, who were admitted at at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital.
Writing in his Facebook page, social issues commentator, Onjezani Kenani said it was sad to learn of the death of the soldiers, adding that “perhaps security organs in charge of the President’s security need to seriously revisit their modus operandi”.
“This is the second accident on the Presidential convoy in four days,” he went on to say. “Another one happened at Lumbadzi on 3 June, when the President was coming from the Luwawa military training session. Two policemen were injured — except the accident was not reported in the media.
“Various comments I have read on social media show that people are concerned about the motorcade’s speed. They have the whole road to themselves, yet they fly like a pigeon running away from a forest fire.
“Some of us know nothing about security, so perhaps driving recklessly like that is part of security, but our roads are already in bad shape, and a moderate speed would not be too much of an ask. In the end, all lives matter.”
Martin Mtawali then disclosed that last Saturday the convoy almost run into the car he was travelling in at Bembeke in Dedza as they were not aware of its coming since there was no lead security vehicle to clear the road to warn motorists of the oncoming convoy.
“They just appeared and they were driving on both lanes leaving no room to manoeuvre safely. There was a near pile up as we avoided the cars ahead of us as they also tried to avoid a head-on collision with the convoy. We nearly ended up into a ditch.”
Timson Chimwala Jnr. responded saying much as he acknowledges that the president is a busy person but the type of high speed doesn’t make sense to him. “Ndiye poti za security kaya (perhaps it being a security measure, we can’t comment much).”
Tinyade Chingwawala was of the opinion that the convoy’s high speed “doesn’t even make sense since they have all the road to themselves” and also agreed that it is not conducive considering the conditions of most roads.
Others said apart from the speed, the convoy also inconveniences other road users due to the security cordons and disruptions when the President is on the road, plus the hundred plus offices who line up along the entire 350km Blantyre-Lilongwe stretch.
It was suggested that perhaps the security system should fly the President on long routes using helicopters or commercial flights just as former President Joyce Banda used to when travelling between Blantyre and Lilongwe.
John Jali said: “Normally, we have Blantyre-Lilongwe commercial flights, the big kahuna should fly commercial” or use MDF choppers if they were in tip top condition.
Unfortunately, Jali continued, the suggestion for the alternative use of helicopters might just lead to others to suggest “we get the President one of those pricey shiny roomy Eurocopter top drawer choppers. A big no for our bleeding economy”.
But Moses Kita liked the idea, saying “as a nation we can afford a presidential helicopter. The president can be flying. Our neighbours in Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania have it, why not us”.
Others said perhaps the issue of flying the President means that there is a reduced number of personnel accompanying the President as the long motorcades financially benefit a lot of officers.
However, Peter Mathews Chilikoh observed that the problem might not be to do with speed but perhaps the type of car they use — which in the case of a Landcruiser is an off-road vehicle.
He observed that the type of speed under discussion is preferably for Toyota VXs or stable saloon cars like Mercedes Benz or BMW.
To which William Dzonzi agreed, saying he once met the convoy as it left Mtunthama State Lodge at Area 3 round about in Lilongwe and he noted that the Land Cruisers were failing to negotiate the sharp bends unlike the others which were comfortably doing so.
Chifundo Ralph Phiri came in to disclose that on May 14 2019 former US President Donald Trump’s motorcade was involved in an accident in which two officers were injured and that December 8, 2020 the current President John Biden’s motorcade was also involved in accident.
“It’s not about speed or roads. It’s an accident basi. Speed is a presidential protocol. It happens anywhere” but Tchaka wa Tchakaz disagreed, saying “90 % of accidents everywhere are as a result of overspeeding”.
“Assuming they were cruising at 70km/hr there wouldn’t be any casualty. The principle of Newton third law of motion is very clear on this — if you cruise at 200km/h and one at 70km/hr and you collide with something stationery or in motion the one cruising at 200km/hr has a devastating impact. So in this case the 10% cause of accidents will go to poor roads that we have.”
S’busisiwe Gondwe said: “Speed thrills but it kills — I’ve read numerous billboards inscribed on them such messages erected on the way side of our various roads, but unfortunately they only address us the ordinary citizens and not those men and women in uniform worse still presidential convoy.
“We have had such avoidable accidents since the time of Bakili Muluzi. Our roads are in a very bad shape and too narrow for such flash-like camera-light speeds.”
Chizamsoka Manda said this had been a “a good and properly toned” debate, saying “the high speed is really unnecessary” and asked the question where the State drivers learn how to drive like that — “within State House premises? This is another heartbreaking tragedy”.
With John Kusedyo saying: “At the end of the day, it’s the families of the lost innocent souls who are the victims. Nobody replaces a life regardless of the support you may be given. It’s sad. May their souls rest in peace.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :