Lilongwe-based road accidents investigation expert, Golden Mbeya, has attributed the rise in road accidents to drivers who did not attend formal driving course.
He disclosed that thousands of drivers on Malawian roads are untrained and are contributing significantly to the spate of killer road accidents.
Mbeya – who is the managing director of Mbeya Private Investigators, an established independent local firm which investigates criminal and civil cases – also revealed that the untrained drivers corruptly acquire their driving licenses, most of which, he adds, “are fake”.
He suggested that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) must be involved to investigate “rampart corruption”, which he says is leading to the proliferation of unqualified drivers on the roads, hence causing accidents.
His sentiments come as the police records show that in the first half of this year, 5, 990 road accidents were recorded out of which 636 were fatal and claimed 720 lives.
The accidents left 3, 846 people with minor and serious injuries.
On factors contributing to the accidents, the police records show that over-speeding ranks highly with 2 010 accidents, tail-gating–or keeping too close–was second with 710 accidents attributed to that cause.
Other factors include ignoring road traffic signs, careless overtaking and reversing negligently.
While agreeing with these causes, Mbeya adds that Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) should also mount ad-hoc road blocks across the country and thoroughly test each driver to ascertain if they are trained and truly qualified and fit to drive.
“Thousands will fail the test of driving a manual car for they learnt driving using automatic cars elsewhere. They did not go to any driving school where manual cars are used to train drivers. Others drive manual cars, but did not go to a driving school. They are not fully aware of the road signs, the exact and right things to do when on the road,” Mbeya told Nyasa Times in an exclusive interview.
He added that these untrained drivers, in order to ply on the roads smoothly, resort to obtaining their licenses corruptly.
“In fact, most of the licenses are fake. Actually, in one investigation we did, the licenses did not show in the traffic system. The fake licenses are so crookedly done that even traffic officers themselves cannot detect them while on duty on the roads. Who issues these licenses?
“Traffic officers must verify licenses with the system to ensure they are genuine. Wrong doers must be arrested and their vehicles confiscated. I believe if all that is done in earnest and overseen by an independent body such as the ACB, we will have sanity returning on our roads in just a matter of a week,” he said.
When contacted on Tuesday to comment on these revelations, National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, referred this reporter to DRTSS spokesperson, Angellina Makwecha.
Makwecha, who said was in a meeting, promised that she would call back, which she did not.
However, the DRTSS spokesperson told the media over the weekend that they are putting in place measures to tackle road accidents.
“We have intensified day and night traffic law enforcement and surveillance services. Additionally, we have enhanced awareness and sensitisation campaigns targeting all road users. This is being done through mainstream media outlets. We are also conducting road safety awareness meetings in various communities,” she told the Nation Online.
While agreeing with the measures, Mbeya added that road users must also ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy for their own safety.
“For instance, avoid buying and using second hand tiers. Always check expiry date. It is sad many drivers do not know that tiers actually expire,” said Mbeya.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :