THE Great North Road is a highway stretching kilometres from Lusaka to Kapiri Mposhi and from there to the border between Zambia and Tanzania.
This road has become a vital route for trading between Zambia and Tanzania and it also serves as a transit course connecting local towns and cities.
But despite almost the entire stretch of this highway upgraded to bituminous standard as at the end of 1998, the road has deteriorated in eminence due to over usage.
It is also just a one-lane route meaning that, there is no clear demarcation separating vehicles moving from north to south and vice versa.
Lack of a duo carriage way has unfortunately spelt doom for users of the Great North road as especially the stretch between Lusaka and Kapiri has become prone to road traffic accidents.
In the last one year alone, more than fifty people have lost their lives between Lusaka and Kapiri, a scourge that has robbed the country of productive men and women, both young and old.
February 7, 2013 will forever remain a dark day on the Zambian calendar as many may recall that this was date when over fifty people died and several others sustained injuries in a road accident in Chibombo.
This was after a Lusaka bound Post Bus collided with an oncoming truck at John Chinena area in Chibombo District, Central Province.
A few other incidents that occurred in and around this area were reported in 2013 and just last weekend, five people died while others sustained injuries at the same spot.
Statistics show that Zambia loses more than two thousand people per annum to road accidents.
Now if more than fifty people can lose their lives on one spot, it means something is wrong and serious intervention is required.
The two incidences I have highlighted are just a handful among countless others and it is sadder to note this because life is priceless and it cannot be compensated by any amount of money.
Continued loss of life not only on this road but on many other roads is counterproductive to the growth of this country because human life is the most essential tool for growth.
Road carnage can be avoided and it should not be a cause for of claiming lives.
Indeed there have been concerted efforts to curb road accidents and though the stakeholders concerned have done a commendable job, more still needs to be done.
Last year, the Road Development Agency (RDA) announced plans to upgrade the Great North Road between Lusaka and Ndola to dual carriage way.
These plans have advanced and the move will be fundamental to reducing the high rate of road accidents.
This will also make it easier for other road users such as farmers in rural areas to ferry their goods to the market place.
However, I am of the view that traders along this road should refrain from selling their goods by the road side as this could be dangerous on a highway.
Imagine if a goods truck was to carer off the road and hit into someone: traders are at risk and even though this is house they find their ends meet, another alterative can be found for these people.
The Ministry of Local Government should see how a modern structures can be mounted strategically for these traders to sale their goods securely.
Police and the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) should also promptly ensure that the law takes its course to prevent road accidents.
We have heard people narrate how an accident was caused because the driver of a particular motor vehicle caused the carnage as they were driving under the influence of alcohol.
This has happened more times than once and RTSA should be commended for introducing the weekend jail term slapped on those found driving under the influence of alcohol.
Accidents caused by careless human error should not be condoned and RTSA has done well to also introduce the use of breathalysers to detect the amount of alcohol in the human system.
The use of speed traps and additional road blocks by the police will be vital to the curbing of road accidents in this country.
This should be done in line with consistent road maintenance such as marking, signage and rehabilitation.
Funds for this exercise are readily available from the collection of road tolling fees by the RDA.
Towards the end of last year, I conversed with an official from the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
During our discussion on the country’s transport system, we talked about the influx of automated vehicles commonly known as “Automatic”.
These are cars which are bought at a very cheap price from Japan and can be driven by almost anyone.
None licensed drivers mostly adolescents have taken advantage of this and unfortunately they are being given the go ahead to operate these vehicles as taxis.
This is dangerous because the driver in this case is not acquainted to the rules and regulations of the road and even if they were, young people have a reputation of “wanting to do it their own way”.
RTSA must monitor this closely and ensure that frequent spot checks on people behind the wheel especially on the freeway.
Being a Christian nation, Zambians must unite in unison to pray against the spirit that causes road accidents.
The three church mother bodies have taken a lead in this regard and members of the public must not lag behind in this crusade. Send your comments, suggestions and contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call and text to 096431711/0973182006