Rickshaw drivers attend safety training conducted by the Automobile Association of Tanzania in collaboration with traffic police in Dar es Salaam
The introduction of three wheelers commonly known as Bajajs and motorcycles, also known as Boda bodas has greatly eased transportation in Dar es Salaam. However, on the other side, the tuk tuks and motorcycles have also come with negative side effects. A high rate of accidents.
In the past, the three wheelers and motorcycles were used by a few individuals and corporations as a transport means. Today they are used mostly for commercial purposes.
The repercussions involved in the massive use of the three wheelers and motorcycles are the rampant accidents that claim the lives of innocent people and injuries that produce disabled people.
The situation has been increasingly dreadful such that both the government and other relevant authorities are at crossroads on how to curb the situation.
It is in this regard that a non-governmental organisation, the Automobile Association of Tanzania (AAT), has come up with a project to avert the situation that has touched almost every household in the country, particularly in urban areas where people are highly in need of the fastest means of transport.
The total fatalities in 2012 were 3,969 according to traffic police statistics. These involved 1,213 motorcyclists/cyclist constituting 30.5 percent of the total accidents.
Total vehicles involved in accidents were 33,105 and 7,115 (21.5 percent) motorcycles.
It is because of this alarming situation that AAT embarked on the training of the riders, targeting 700 riders last year. However, it exceeded the target by training a total 1,006 riders up to this month.
The writer of this article recently caught up with AAT President Nizar Jivani who spoke on why his association has embarked on ensuring the safety of Bajaj and Boda boda riders and who the people behind the exercise are.
QUESTION: Why is AAT involved in the training of the motorcyclists?
A: As the custodian of automobiles in the country, we have been shocked by the escalating number of deaths and injuries of innocent civilians for no apparent reason. Moreover, safety is our top priority not only of the motor rallies but also of all road users.
Q: Who conducted the training?
A: We hired experts from outside the country as AAT’s own resources were limited to carry out this large scale exercise. With the professional organisations assistance, AAT was able to achieve the targeted goals of training riders professionally. We actually got assistance from FIA (The International Federation of Automobiles)
Q: Which areas were covered during the training?
A: The training covered the following areas including the cyclists’ knowledge of their machines, the road crafts and fundamental principles of how to use it. Road signs and their use during riding. The rider as a citizen and the fight against crimes (Community Policing) and fire extinguisher programme.
Q: What was the riders’ response and what lessons did you learn?
A: It was very interesting to learn that some of them had no valid licences and others had no licences at all.
The first intake of the training in October was not very encouraging because the riders were quite sceptical of the motive for “free” training. After sensitizing them by distributing leaflets, a large number registered at various police stations.
Q: In which areas was the training conducted?
A: The training was conducted in the central business district and at later stages in the suburbs of Dar es Salaam, within a radius of 15-20 kilometres covering areas of Mwenge, Kimara, Chang'ombe Mbagala and Tabata which constitute only 25% of Dar es Salaam area.
During the training survey we found out that 80% of the riders were not aware of road signs and were riding without licenses.
Q: What are your future plans in relation to road safety measures? Are you satisfied with the level of achievement you have attained in the entire exercise?
A: Up to this point we have done our best but we are not satisfied as the number accidents are still on the rise. However, we are not tired and we plan to step up safety measures depending on the available resources.
The second batch of training will commence shortly after getting clearance from FIA Road Safety grant as currently we have 350 registered riders from Ilala district lined up for the exercise.