By Yuyo Nachali-Kambikambi –
As one award-winning creative director Simon Mainwaring once said: “Creating a better world requires teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration, as we need an entire army of companies to work together to build a better world within the next few decades. This means corporations must embrace the benefits of cooperating with one another.”
With that said, and after considering all pros and cons, the SABMiller Zambia Group of companies decided it was time to get involved (hands-on) to help curb road traffic vices, especially the drunk driving that has now become rampant in the country.
The SABMiller Group has made discouraging irresponsible drinking one of its top sustainable development priorities. The reason, in the company’s opinion, is simple as SABMiller Zambia Group of Companies Managing Director, Anele Malumo, says: “When people drink too much, they can hurt themselves, other people, and the communities that help give us our livelihood. No one benefits, not even us.”
Adding: “There is no simple solution. We believe, however, there are things that make a difference.
Things like making sure information about alcohol is accurate and balanced. Enforcing laws against drinking and driving, underage drinking, and disorderly conduct. And, reaching out to people who are most at risk to help them,” Mr Malumo says.
It is believed that different things work in different markets. Therefore, in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Mr Malumo and Mr. Zindaba Soko, the Chief Executive Officer of RTSA, the parties have agreed to develop practical ways for coordinated and integrated programmes to reduce drinking and driving.
Some of the interventions to address alcohol-related road traffic accidents include assessing Zambia’s situation in relation to patterns of alcohol consumption and its impact on road traffic accidents as well as assessing the impact of the programme in terms of specified programme objectives.
The SABMiller Zambia group, which comprises Zambian Breweries Plc, National Breweries Plc and Heinrich’s Beverages, has committed over K200, 000 to RTSA for the next three years.
Communications and Transport Minister, Yamfwa Mukanga, and his Deputy, Colonel Panji Kaunda, who were on hand to witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) thanked the SABMiller Group for partnering with RTSA at a time when Government is looking into ways of reducing accidents across the country.
“We have too many accidents caused by drunken driving and it is indeed good to see that the companies that make some of this alcohol have seen the need to partner with law enforcement agencies to try and arrest the situation,” Mr Mukanga said.
Apart from the monetary contribution, Twenty-five SABMiller members of staff have also since been taken through rigorous training by RTSA senior officials in a bid to build capacity by having the employees partake in the operations of RTSA as Road Traffic Inspectors.
Aside being trained in road safety management, the employees were also taken through the Zambian Laws which are specific to road safety and drinking and driving penalties.
RTSA chief executive officer Mr Zindaba Soko could not hide his delight at the signing-ceremony and the prospect of partnering with the SABMiller Zambia Group saying the partnership couldn’t have come at a better time.
“People might think this is a strange partnership because you are the ones who make the alcohol but we as RTSA are so happy to have you on board because this shows that you are not just interested in profits but are also mindful that there are indeed certain people who want to abuse your product. So we say welcome to the RTSA family,” Mr Soko said.
SABMiller Zambia Group of Companies corporate affairs director, Mr Luke Njovu, who was also at the signing-ceremony had this to this: “Yes, we do produce alcohol but surely we know that even some of our friends abuse our product and are not responsible in the way they take it.
We would rather have a customer who is alive and well who will buy one or two from us each day than have a customer who will buy 4 or 5 today and is killed in some unfortunate incident. Who loses? It’s firstly, and more importantly, the family of the deceased but equally the business loses as then we would have lost a customer,” Mr Njovu said.
Historically it is a well-known fact that road traffic injuries are a major public health problem and a leading cause of death and injury not just in Zambia but the world over.
Each year nearly 1.2 million people die and millions more are injured or disabled as a result of road crashes, mostly in low-income and middle-income countries.
As well as creating enormous social costs for individuals, families and communities, road traffic injuries place a heavy burden on health services, businesses and economies in general.
The Zambia Road Accident Data 2010 Report indicates that more than 1,200 people died in road traffic accidents in Zambia. 50 per cent of those road traffic deaths involved alcohol and drunk driving.
The Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) recently indicated 400 people have died on Zambian roads emanating from 6,000 road traffic accidents recorded.
RTSA indicates that the number of people dying on Zambian roads has continued to rise despite numerous efforts by stakeholders to improve road safety.
Statistics indicate that road traffic accidents are now among the top three causes of death in Zambia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Drinking and Driving Road Safety Manual indicates that: “The consumption of alcohol, even in relatively small amounts, increases the risk of being involved in a crash for motorists and pedestrians.”
Not only does alcohol impair processes critical to safe road use, such as vision and reaction time, it is also associated with impaired judgment and so is often linked to other high-risk road use behaviours such as speeding or not using seat-belts.
In conformity of the suggested interventions by the WHO, the SABMiller Policy on drinking and driving indicates that people who are drunk should not drive.
The policy respects the rights of countries to establish drink driving laws, including maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for drivers, and supports enforcement of those laws. The SABMiller group encourages targeted education and intervention programmes that encourage people not to drive drunk. In addition, SABMiller supports technological advances (e.g. ignition interlock devices) that prevent repeat offenders from driving while intoxicated.
It is all in view of all the above and more, that Zambian Breweries Plc, National Breweries Plc, and Heinrich’s Syndicate, all subsidiaries of SABMiller Plc, have embarked on this partnership with RTSA.
In so doing, the three companies will also undertake road safety campaigns in communities, schools and will host other big events like road-shows across the country.
The author is Corporate Affairs Manager-Communications for the SABMiller Zambia Group of Companies.