RECENTLY I went to visit a friend of mine who was celebrating the birth of his son, two years after he married his childhood sweetheart.
He was a very proud man that day, and I watched him as he told me the plans he had for his small but growing family, and because I had known him for quite some time, I knew he was capable of turning his dreams into a reality.
A few days later as I perused the internet, I stumbled across his picture, a portrait of him donning an infectious smile, but the caption of the photo left me reeling…RIP.
I learned a short while later that he perished after the motorcycle he was carried on was involved in a nasty accident a few meters from his house. Motorcycles are a common mode of transportation in low- and middle-income countries.
Tanzania, in particular, has experienced an increased use of motorcycles in the last decade. In Dar es Salaam, motorcycles provide door-to-door travel and often operate where more conventional services are uneconomical or physically impossible to manoeuvre.
Although motorcycles play a crucial role in improving mobility in the city, they have several safety issues.
Motorcycle injuries constitute a major but neglected emerging public health problem in developing countries (Tanzania being among them) and contribute significantly to the overall road traffic injuries.
However, motorcycle accidents which cause injuries and death have not received the adequate attention they deserve as the situation is worsening.
The people who are affected by motorcycle accidents are mostly in their most productive years (15-44 years). These deaths are a huge drain on the country’s human resources.
Also, when a head of household dies or is seriously injured in a road traffic accident, the whole family is plunged into poverty and psychological torture. Motorcycle accidents are, therefore, a big problem to the government and the society of Tanzania.
Reckless driving, speeding, alcohol drinking and riding without a helmet are among the causes of commercial motorcycle accidents. Law enforcement agents, including traffic police should be strict on commercial motorcyclists who violate traffic rules and regulations.
There should be strict penalties against anybody contravening the road traffic rules, including over speeding, alcoholic drink and driving, riders without helmet, carrying more than one passenger and other offences.
Road infrastructure should continuously be improved. Most of the riders of commercial motorcycles are not aware of cycling regulations, while others have not heard about Road Traffic Act operating in the country.
Funds should be made available by the government for the creation of road safety awareness, using different media of communications as a form of national orientation.