By GETHSEMANE MWIZABI –
THE year 2013 was in a lot of ways both defining and refining for the country. Both happy and sad memories would remain in the minds of every Zambian, old enough to remember the sequence of events that characterised the year.
As far as road traffic accidents are concerned, lots of lives were lost and the country mourned a host of friends and loved ones, some of whom were a critical part of the country’s human resource.
The biggest accident of them all was the infamous Chibombo Post Bus carnage that claimed over 50 lives.
February 7th was just like any other day until a bus collided with a small truck and a sport utility vehicle on the Great North Road, between the towns of Chibombo and Kabwe in Central Province. The accident resulted in the deaths, of 49 of the 73 persons on board the bus, and of the truck driver and his assistant. A further 28 people were injured.
The crash was one of the worst in the history of Zambia, and was compared to the 2005 bus accident in which 38 high school students died and another 50 were seriously injured.
Three days of national mourning was declared in memory of those that had died as the country plunged into grief reminiscant of the 1993 Gabon Air Disaster that claimed the lives of the entire Zambia national team off the coast of Gabon.
Television screens, radio and social media were flooded with the sorrowful news.
As if this was not enough, on April 30th 2013, Seventeen passengers died in a horrific road traffic accident in Chisamba near Ibis gardens.
The accident occurred after a Toyota Hiace minibus which was headed for Lusaka collided with a Volvo truck in the early hours after it had a tyre burst.
Fourteen of the 17 Chisamba accident victims were buried at a mass burial in Kabwe. There is no doubt that road traffic accidents are a menace to society. There is a lot of pain whenever a loved one dies; especially the life which is cut short.
Furthermore, nine people died while 17 sustained serious injuries in this month of June alone when a Toyota Dyna registration number ALJ 9169 plunged into a stream, hitting the concrete wall of an embankment of Kalulu Bridge in Luangwa District in Lusaka Province.
The accident happened between Kavalamanja and Feira, which is 90 kilometres from the Great East Road.
Several other examples of road traffic accidents in which several people lost their lives during the year 2013 can be cited.
Speeding motorists who are always rushing to overtake other vehicles even at spots where overtaking is not allowed have been identified as one of the major causes of traffic accidents.
Time and again, calls have been made for drivers to avoid speeding and overloading, but that call has often fallen on deaf ears.
As Daniel Mwamba , Chairman of the Zambian Road Safety Trust put it, each and every traffic accident is tantamount to painful human and financial loss. And behind each number is a family who has lost hope for a better future: children who must fight harder because of their disabilities or mothers who need to work several jobs because their husbands are dead. In the developing world, where the road accident pandemic has hit hardest, these accidents will become the fifth leading cause of death, leap-frogging past HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other familiar killers, according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) most recent Global Burden of Disease study.
During the Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF) period held in Ndola 16 people died in separate road traffic accidents countrywide.
On September 19th, eleven family members died on the spot when they were travelling to Ndola for a funeral .
The accident happened on the Ndola-Kapiri Mposhi road in Kafulafuta area. The accident was indeed ironical in nature in that the people who perished were accompanying the corpse of their departed son who had died earlier on in Lusaka and were on their way to bury him in Ndola.
Another horrific accident took place on December 2nd when 14 people perished when a Marcopolo bus plunged into the Luangwa River.
Amongst the dead were six females and eight males who included the driver of the bus while several other passengers sustained injuries and were rushed to Mpanshya Mission Hospital.
Three children who were on board the bus registration number ABA 4611 lost their mothers and were among the eight that were evacuated to University Teaching Hospital (UTH) by two Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Z-9 helicopters. The bus belongs to Ronsil Transport.
Some passengers sustained broken spines, limbs and multiple injuries on their bodies.
Ultimately, improving road safety is a shared responsibility. Besides drivers, passengers have a duty to advise or report any speeding driver.
As far as road traffic accidents are concerned, 2013 bears lots of painful memories so hard to forget.