Road Accidents: Need To Cure The Curse

Well-run sources close to the Ministry of Transport reveal that Cameroon fears some 1,000 deaths each year from road accidents. A wide range of media outlets have been reporting traffic mishaps averaging 16,000 cases annually bleeding humans and leading high numbers to their graves. Black Roger’s, a famous Cameroonian artist and keen observer of society, took the plight to the dancing hall singing a thought-provoking French title that “La route ne tue pas, mais c’est nous qui tueons …” or roads do not kill, but drivers do.
Road mishaps stir anguish in families, taxe human lives, waste materials, and drain the economy. Many victims are today on crutches or simply incapacitated from road accidents. Fresh in memories is the Moliwe-Limbe road crash in the morning of 31 March, 2023 claiming six lives on the spot and leaving 20 in agony. In that case, a 20-ton truck loaded with sand lost control and crushed an on-coming 17-seater transport bus overloaded with 26 passengers.
The Moliwe traffic crash in Fako Division of the South West Region is reminiscent of many worse ones notably that which snuffed out life from more than 37 passengers instantly at Makenene on the Bafoussam –Yaounde highway. Investigators ascribe human causes to these crashes ranging from driver drowsiness to unchecked vehicles. Professionals in driving hint that chauffeurs must effect all-round checks before taking their vehicles on the road. Such checks, they explain, are both administrative and mechanical.
Most importantly, as a life-saving measure, one must check the car mechanically every morning before moving it out of pack. As taught in typical driving schools, a mechanical check is applied on the physical state of the vehicle. This involves in the first place going round your car to verify if the tyres are sufficiently filled with air. Secondly, you open the bonnet and verify if the coolant, brakes and steering fluids as well as the engine oil are at functional level. Those are crucial components that hold the string of passengers’ lives. Also, ascertain if battery terminals are in place. Last step as you enter the car, verify its hygiene, mirrors, indicative lights on the dashboard, and the first aid kit. The other check which is administrative requires ascertaining if car documents like insurance, registration certificate, road worthiness report and driver’s licence are handy. While on the road, careful drivers go defensively and preventively not claiming rights that may only be earned in the graves.  
The then Minister of Communication made a press outing on 5 December, 2018 in Yaounde announcing an overall 8,669 death toll counted within eight successive years from 22,314 registered accident cases in Cameroon. Road mishaps are a regular occurrence and the idea here is not to give statistics about them. It is instead to point to the persistence of the careless causes putting human lives in permanent danger. What triggers these accidents or road butchery was analysed by the Government Minister to include unlicensed and unskilled drivers and the poor state of vehicles involved. Extensively, the causes of road accidents these days are equally linked to drugging, excessive speeding, road rage, drivers escaping from legal and illegal controls, hazardous overtaking, poor state of roads, overloading and the mad rush for gain.
Government has multiplied and intensified road safety campaigns on Cameroon highways through its Police, Gendarmerie and Transport agencies. Authorities are combatting road disorders with zero tolerance for defaulters. The laws are firm against poor driving; non-respect of Highway Code, fraudulent driving licence but the river of blood still flows on the highways. Compared with sea and air transportation, movement by land has become most dangerous. Hardly does a day pass without talk of accident. For the purpose of safety and security, the laws prohibit driving in Cameroon without a number of papers including a driver’s licence, car insurance, and the vehicle road worthiness report. In addition, control guards are visible at various bends of the roads by the Police, the Gendarmerie, the local council police and officials of the Ministry of Transport. Defaulting drivers are caught in the net each day and subjected to money fines. Yet, recklessness continues with blood streaming forth on the roads. Why?
The crux of safety lies in the psyche of road users. In the first place, many drivers do not pass through formal driving schools where learners are supposed to be drilled to cultivate necessary reflexes to operate machinery. If they are from driving schools at all, they quickly...



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