Open letter to Power Tools on the increasing poor road safety record

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The Zambia Road Safety Trust (ZRST) is the Nation’s leading road safety charity, which was founded in 2014 and has over 1,000 members and supporters.

Over the years, we have supported the Government to take concrete action for safer roads, and reduce the tragedy of deaths and injuries on Zambia’s roads. Our central mission is to make Zambia’s roads safe, accessible, and enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities.

Just like any concerned citizen, we are deeply concerned about the continued unabated road accidents involving your buses. And this letter is in response to the recent accident involving one of your buses which happened this month on 2nd May 2020 in Manyinga District of North Western Province.

Unfortunately, this tragic incident led to the loss of 4 lives, including one of your drivers, leaving the other 15 people with life-changing injuries. ZRST wish to offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

But this was just one of many road accidents involving your buses happening on a regular basis. We are highly disappointed by the missed opportunities to advance road safety in your company and the many lives lost or severely altered because you have failed to learn from your previous mistakes.

In each of those road accidents, involving your buses, there has been strong evidence of lax road safety adherence, inaction, and failure to protect road users on many levels.

ZRST is disturbed that every time one of your buses is involved in a tragic incident, the blame is put on your drivers, while you continue operating.

But you as the owner, benefiting from the business, you must, as far as possible, make sure that neither employees (drivers) nor anyone else (passengers) is put at risk by your transport activities. Why do you always blame the drivers whom you hire?

They must be skilled and trained but also controlled to ensure ever higher safety, as safety remains the number one characteristic of bus and coach transport. Your drivers are required to be in peak condition, rested and fit, to ensure the passengers in their care are never let down.

You must know that bus drivers are a special group of professional motorists that differ markedly from the population of car drivers in ways that are likely to affect their crash risk.

They assume the added pressure of responsibility for passengers’ lives driving large, heavy buses that are constantly pulling in and out of traffic, sometimes in most built-up areas. They do much higher annual mileage than private drivers. Things such as bus schedules are likely to exert a strong influence on their driving behaviour.

ZRST is appealing to your conscious of the negative impact you as an individual is having on people’s lives and the legacy you want to be remembered for. The profit motive of your operations is destroying not only lives but also public spirit, dignity, property, and national development efforts.

The physical damage is destroying victims’ mentality and spiritual strength for both the victims and their family members who are indirect victims. Your business has left many children to become orphans due to the deaths of their parents, and this circumstance shapes their future lives. This tragic status quo needs to change.

Please do everything in your power or seek advice to avoid this to happen in the future. Accidents are preventable and avoidable.

As ZRST, we are willing to support you in avoiding this by improving the road safety of your organisation.

Please consider this letter as a piece of friendly advice.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Mwamba

Chairman

Cc Minister of Transport & Communications

Director RTSA

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31