The prime minister struck the nail on the head when she called for alertness on everyone’s part to prevent road accidents. It is a good idea too to introduce instructions on road safety at the school level. Awareness about rules of the road ought to be ingrained in the minds of children at an impressionable age so that observing the rules becomes a second nature.
One couldn’t agree more with the PM that the drivers alone are not responsible for accidents, but it is also true that most of the accidents are the results of either rash driving or disregard for the safety of other road-users, or caused by untrained drivers and faulty vehicles. Therefore, infringement of rules, whoever may be responsible, should be dealt with firmly and punishment should be proportional to the nature of the violation. However, what that requires is a set of contemporary laws that should be enforced vigorously. Given the heavy toll of life, not to speak of a large number of accident victims rendered physically invalid due to accidents, implementation of a new law does not brook any delay. Regrettably, the Road Safety Act-2018, formulated after student agitation last year for safer roads, seems to have been stalled, even after the president’s approval. We are dismayed at the reported efforts to water down some provisions about the punishments, which in themselves are already inadequate. And this is being done under pressure from transport workers and owners. For example, punishment for killing by reckless driving carries a maximum sentence of 5 years whereas simple robbery and robbery on highways at night carries a maximum sentence of 10 and 14 years respectively. Such a soft stance on a grievous offence to start with, and now the attempt to take an even more lenient position on deaths on roads, may well compel other stakeholders to ask whether the administration is at all serious about reducing road accidents and the number of deaths. Undue pressures should be resisted and the proposed Road Safety Act should be implemented without any more procrastination.