By Bahle Gama
It was a bloody weekend!
Over the weekend, 14 people were involved in three different nasty road accidents and five of them lost their lives. According to police reports, the first accident took place on Friday at Mpolonjeni, along Jabula/Lukhula road when a 44-year-old truck driver of Kashoba knocked down a 19-year-old who sustained serious injuries.
The teenager was rushed to Good Shepherd Hospital where he was certified dead upon arrival. On Saturday at 5:30 a.m. near Casino along Hluthi/Nhlangano MR 11 Road, a Toyota D4D driven by a 29-year-old man from Lushikishini lost control, veered off the road, and overturned. The car was carrying three passengers and of these, a 35-year-old woman from Mlambo area sustained serious injuries and was rushed to Nhlangano Health Centre where she was treated and then later transferred to Hlathikhulu Government Hospital with the two other passengers. The others sustained minor injuries and they were treated at Nhlangano Health Centre and discharged.
On the same day at 9:45 p.m. in Ngwenya area near Ingwe Mabala Bar, an Audi collided with a Kia-Rio.
The vehicles were driving along the Ngwenya/Mbabane highway when the Audi driven by a 40-year-old man from Nkhaba collided with the Rio driven by a 33-year-old man from Manzini. The Kia was reportedly driving towards oncoming traffic in the fast lane hence the collision.
The driver together with two passengers, a 35-year-old man from Nyakeni and an unknown female sustained severe injuries and were all certified dead upon arrival at Mbabane Government Hospital. An unknown infant involved in the accident was also admitted to the hospital after sustaining injuries. The driver of the Audi together with his five passengers sustained serious injuries and were admitted to Mbabane Government Hospital and currently undergoing treatment.
In a brief interview, Deputy Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Inspector Nosipho Mnguni said none of the admitted casualties had succumbed to their injuries at the time of compiling this article and promised to update the nation in the event the death toll increases. In June 2023, Eswatini Prime Minister Cleopas Sipho Dlamini launched the 2nd Decade of Action on Road Safety for the period 2021-2030 and declared “enough is enough” while committing to reducing road accident deaths and injuries by 50 per cent.
WHO and the UN regional commissions, in cooperation with other partners in the UN Road Safety Collaboration, have developed a Global Plan for the Decade of Action, which was launched in October 2021.
“Today, we are gathered here to declare “enough is enough”, said the Prime Minister at the launch held at Esibayeni Lodge in Matsapha. “Let us all consider Road Safety as a shared responsibility where the government efforts are complemented by the private sector, civil organisations, Non-Government Organisations and every citizen in the fight against this scourge.
“As we commit to the Call for Action on Road Safety until 2030, I urge every liSwati to use the road responsibly. As much as the targets of the Decade of Action on Road Safety are ambitious, they are, however, achievable.” The 1st Road Safety Decade of Action which covered the period 2011-2020 prioritized five pillars, including road safety management; safer roads and mobility; safer vehicles; safer road users and post-crash response. The 2nd Decade of Action builds on the considerable work done in the 1st Decade of Action with five pillars that include multimodal transport and land use planning; safe road infrastructure; safe vehicles; safe road use; and post-crash response.
Eswatini has also ratified the African Road Safety Charter whose fundamental aim is to improve road safety through road construction, vehicle safety, safe road use and post-crash care. Pedestrians account for more than 60 per cent of road traffic accidents. The Prime Minister committed to ensuring that all roads are constructed to cater for non-motorised transport. Non-motorised transport is transport which has no mechanical engine that propels it. These include animal-drawn vehicles, walking, road running, cycling and others.
In August, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport revealed that the carnage on the country’s roads is bleeding the government dry. Since the year 2021, the government has spent a staggering E1.6 billion due to road traffic accidents. These latest figures were released by Minister of Public Works and Transport Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe through his Principal Secretary Thulani Mkhaliphi.
“In a space of just six months, over 2 274 road accidents have been reported between January to June 2023 with 105 leading to fatal accidents and 374 leading to serious injuries,” Mkhaliphi was quoted as saying.
“Quite a lot of the country’s GDP is taken by road traffic accidents.
That is E1.6 billion, which looks small but it could be used to develop other sectors of the country. This is quite substantial in terms of the losses in the economy. Road crashes resulted in significant human and economic costs,” he said.