Since January this year, road accidents in Rwanda have claimed 180 victims against 400 victims in 2018 and, statistically, this insinuates that the number of accidents would increase this year, compared to the previous one.
The Rwanda National Police is conducting a yearlong campaign to reverse the trends.
When you see the Minister of State in charge of transport at ministry of infrastructure, senior police officers and city of Kigali officials putting a sticker on a bus, think about the campaign.
On Monday, the officials descended to Nyabugogo Taxi Park to tell passengers their rights, responsibilities, and the drivers, their obligations that lead to road safety under the campaign ‘Gerayo Amahoro’ loosely translated as “safe journey.”
“If a driver grabs a phone and starts talking while driving and one of you rebukes him, the rest of the passengers should not take it for granted because it’s about your safety,” said Minister Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye.
The Minister made this point to recall an experience he personally had a couple of weeks ago.
A bus was over speeding, and the Minister stopped the driver to reprimand him only to hear the commuters on board shouting; “you are delaying us. You are taking a bit of our time.”
“The most important for you is to reach safely. You parents, the youth and anyone on board, you can’t and you should not accept to lose your life in an accident while your families still need you. Why should you die?”
The minister said, commuters should be responsible and concerned about road safety as well as drivers.
“The country needs bot passengers and drivers for its development,” he said.
Safety tips before embarking on a journey
The road safety includes a range of instructions that should be followed for the bus to reach without casualties.
In every bus, was installed a speaker that will be turned on to tell passengers the safety tips. The message includes rights of the commuters, responsibilities of a commuter and obligations of the driver.
According to the message, passengers should desist from smocking while on board, littering, sharing one seat by two, among others.
A driver is also instructed never to charge fees without using the appropriate card, never to use a phone while on board, never to drink and drive, to desist from over speeding and never to ignore tightening to seat belt, among others.
The message includes a phone number to use whenever this is not observed.
“This is a form of covenant between the commuters and their driver. Whoever will not abide by this, will be betraying the covenant,” said police spokesperson CP John Bosco Kabera.
“If drivers understand that they are the center of reducing accidents, accidents’ statistics will reduce indeed. As far as we are concerned, if our driver is caught misbehaving, we shall particularly hold him accountable,” said Bishop Kehangire, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC).