Mbabane: It is worrying that despite stiff penalties and weekend courts, road traffic offenses still persist. Excessive speeding has seen a total of two thousand and five people arrested and taken in to custody by the Eswatini police from 2015 to 2019. Within the same period, 21 258 drivers were charged by the courts for the same offence, said Inspector Richard Ginindza of the Royal Eswatini Police Services, Traffic Division.
Despite fines, such habits still occur and perhaps more activations and sensitizing of people need to happen, observed Ginindza, saying most of the lawbreakers are linked with drinking and driving with the main culprits ranging between ages 35 and 45 years. Ginindza said the concern is that that these were young and energetic people who should be contributing towards economic growth.
“Driving under the influence of alcohol has depleted the country of its core citizens in breadwinners, who either find themselves in jail or dead,” said Ginindza, adding that statistics show that in 2015 ten road fatal accidents occurred while in 2016 there were eleven. In 2017 there were 9, in 2018 there were 8 while in 2019 the numbers shot up to 38.
Ginindza said such wayward behavior as excessing speeding in Eswatini is an act that is not typically acceptable, destructive and antisocial as against the common good.
From 2015 to 2019 the total number of accidents in Eswatini, from fatal, serious, minor and damaged vehicles was 884.
Ginindza said road safety has a lot to do with peace violation with regards to innocent souls who perish due to negligence. He mentioned that Eswatini is known as a peace loving country and it is to be seen that such a good virtue is not lost.
He said they were doing all they could in line with the powers vested in them to ensure a secured road system despite that there is room for improvement, all in partnership with stakeholders like the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Eswatini Road and Safety Council.
Like in other countries the one of the key problems in the country is driving under the influence of an intoxicating or illegal drug. Ginindza made mention of a number of bus station waiting rooms that have been knocked down and many lives lost and others seriously injured due to a vehicle that has lost control.
As the police they have encountered some ridiculous habits like jumping off a moving vehicle, in the process not only putting the life of the risk taker in danger but distracting on-coming traffic. Ginindza said road safety in Eswatini is a subject that needs careful observation and addressing as issues pertaining to it cover a variety of classes.
“Farmers, for instance, have contributed a lot to the damage of vehicles and loss of lives as they leave their livestock unattended to and stray to the road,” said Ginindza, adding that cyclists and motor-cyclists’ offences are on the rise in the police records whereby some users tend not to wear their helmets and ride on wrong sides of the road.
“Due to the violation of the road traffic act cyclists have added to fatalities on public roads and road fatalities and fatal crashes are caused mainly by poor decision making on the part of people,” said Ginindza.
He said while as the police they were given the task to ensure safety on public roads, there is that part that they cannot fulfill, which is decision-making on the part of those who use roads. As in neighboring countries, or any other country for that matter, people ignore secured points like Zebra-crossings and overhead bridges and cross roads at informal points, said the law enforcer.
He said negligent driving comes in different forms like crossing the road an informal points, cutting, improper overtaking, improper turning and swerving or skidding. He said some drivers are in the tendency to signal to others behind them to overtake, even at a blind-rise, causing serious crashes and loss of life. He said it is against the law for a driver to signal to another driver to pass through.
Other problems are negligent turning, not complying with signs, failing to signal, stopping suddenly and being inconsiderate of others. Ginindza said stopping suddenly is common with public transport drivers, who will stop anywhere, anytime to pick a customer. All these have contributed to road crashes, which have had adverse impact on the economy, said Ginindza.
On a parting shot Ginindza mentioned that the lives that are lost as a result of reckless use of roads should be contributing to the unstable economy of the country, without which the country will find it hard to reach the much sought after Vision 2022.
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