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Friday, 28 April, 2000, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Africa: Why so many accidents?
Hardly a week goes by without news of a serious road or boat accident in Africa.
Why are there so many accidents on Africa's roads, rivers and lakes? Who is to blame? Bad drivers or skippers? Or is the problem caused by overcrowding?
Are the authorities doing enough to make the roads, rivers and lakes safer? What do you believe needs to be done?
Africa is not one country, its a huge continent, and what a naive question to ask my fellow Africans. The BBC is posting this question like nothing happens in Europe or America in term of roads. Accidents happen on every corner, not only Africa and to suggest that African roads are bad - Don't look at Asia or even Eastern Europe, just look your own big city "London" the roads are terrible and bad drivers too.
Africa has other problems and it is not time that we should worry about roads/water accidents. Our people are starving in Ethiopia, Somalia did not have central government for 10 years and from Zambia, Botswana to South Africa Aids is sweeping the continent so we have to worry about those at the moment and not traffic problems.
The other disturbing fact is that some countries (Zambia for instance) do not have functioning transport policies. But I would like to question the roadworthiness of the buses and other vehicles imported from outside especially!
A lot of outdated and reconditioned vehicles find their way into poor Africa. In this way, the outside world contributes to the road carnage in most of the African countries.
The problem of rising car accidents is compounded by the fact that the police, who are supposed to ensure the observation of traffic rules, are not doing their job. In fact in countries like Zambia, the Police drive very defective cars,
Betty de Jong, USA
One of the major causes of accidents
is that in Africa we have a poor
Joab Zephaniah Magara, Kenyan living in USA
Accidents in Africa are caused by the absence of effective road safety policies and laws.
In UK careless drivers face jail sentences. In Kenya, a modest court fine could end a long
legal process that began with the deaths of many. Forget the bad roads - that should be the more reason
to drive carefully.
Then there is poverty. Governments can't pay the law enforcers well, so they become corrupt.
The owners of public transport look for "cheap drivers" to cut down on costs of high investments
in the vehicles. The poor traveller cannot pay more to encourage safety. So they overload to break even.
When tragedy comes the buck is passed to some evil spirits and life goes on DANGEROUSLY!
The road accidents in Africa are really out of hand. Sometimes I tend to wonder if our governments are happy about this continuous loss of life because nothing seems to be done like in my own country of origin Kenya, where almost 10 people's lives are lost through road accidents. Leaders stop feeding your banks with many for the roads.
I don't want to overstate this point, but alcohol most certainly plays a role in a lot of these accidents. If it's Apatashi in Ghana or good ol' Castle in South Africa, alcohol consumption is ubiquitous at the taxi rank.
The responsibility of the authorities will create an awareness among the population to behave positively
Africa needs accountability for its survival.
Whilst agreeing with the comments on the economics of transportation, I would add, excitement on both the proprietor and his drivers after a perceived profit, lack of supervision and a general carefree attitude.
I am surprised the death toll or rate is as low as they are on African highways. I will be honest. I expect more severe accidents at high frequency because these roads have out lived their time. They do not meet current highway geometric standards, there are no posted speed limits and the conditions of the pavement are very poor. The fault lies squarely in the hands of African leaders.
Some of the causes of accidents in Africa are narrow roads, drunk driving, few traffic lights, illiteracy and non enforcement of traffic laws.
This is ridiculous. What is the individual African country statistics on accidents and how do these compare with other countries on other continents? On the other hand how does Africa's accident statistics compare with other continents? It is only when Africa is seen as one "big village", prone with only disasters to be reported that one gets this type of coverage. It happened with the Airline disaster in Abidjan recently; same with Aids - even now mosquitoes. And now you want to keep tab of bicycle accidents too!
Africa now has a problem with it's road and everything, because most of the roads were built by the Europeans colonisation over Africa in the 1900's. While today African leaders are busy destroying what they enjoyed when they were young!
Also police and port authorities are bribed into overlooking major defects noticed on public vehicles. Tires are bold, slip the right note with your papers, and off you go... Reckless driving is also at the root of the problem; most major road accidents involve excessive speeding.
Mike Msuya, USA/Tanzania
The fundamental economics of African travel is that the transport operators' income is determined by maximising passenger miles. The more passengers, the faster the speed, the more money earned. The economics of transport in Africa encourages speed and overloading.
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