Henry Bantu, a member of National Road Safety Council told this paper that all road users are responsible for the safety of students. He said education is a paramount factor, starting from tender age and building the road safety culture within society.
He said the council has a number of initiatives that are meant to ensure students go to school and return home safe.
One of the initiatives is the Junior Road Marshalls project implemented in Dar es Salaam to assist children cross the roads safely. He said the project includes putting Zebra Crosses around schools.
Bantu who is also the Chairman for Safe Speed Foundation, a non-governmental organization that advocates for road safety, proposed on various measures to be taken in order to make roads safe for all users which includes construction of pathways around busy urban centres.
“The pathways are important because not only students who face challenges while on the roads but other road users. Road safety education should be provided to students and members of the society,” said Bantu insisting such educational programmes would prevent accidents and deaths.
Head of Legal Department at the traffic police headquarters, Deus Sokoni said the police force’s traffic unit has been deploying its officers at road crossings every morning and evening hours to make sure students are crossing safely.
He said that traffic police has been conducting public awareness and sensitization campaign at bus terminals to educate drivers about road safety and the importance of obeying the traffic laws, regulations and signs.
“We have recently conducted an education campaign at Mwandege area in Coast Region, these efforts would reduce the number of road crashes,” he stated adding the law allows traffic police to confiscate driving licences of drivers violating traffic rules and return them after six months.
Sokoni said similar education campaigns will be conducted at various areas within Coast Region including Bagamoyo, Kisarawe, Kibiti, Mkuranga , Kibaha Rural and Urban districts.
He said the Tanzania National Road Agency (Tanroads) and Tanzania Rural and Urban Road Agency (TARURA) are responsible for fixing road signs at roads.
Zafarani Madayi, Manager of Safety and Environment at Tanroads said the agency has been taking various measures to educate people on safe road use as well as installation of road signs
“We want them to know the meaning of road signs fixed during the process and the ones installed when the roads are in use. This has helped to control road accidents,” said Madayi noting vandalism of road infrastructures is still one of the major challenges.
A parent identified as Mwajuma Chingwele from Mbagala Kuu ,Temeke district, Dar es Salaam region said more efforts are needed to make sure that students go to school and return home safely. She said drivers must be insisted on the need to drive their cars at a 30 km/h speed limit especially when crossing congested areas such as schools, hospitals, markets and play grounds.
The UN Global Traffic Safety Week (UNGRSW) which was globally marked in May this year was themed—‘Streets for Life #Love30’ calling for 30 km/h speed limits to be the norm for cities, towns and villages worldwide.
The Traffic Police Annual Report for the year 2017, 2018 and 2019, shows that road fatalities to children has drastically decreased.
Deaths of children aged between 0-18 decreased from 294 in January to December 2017 to 52 in 2019 the same period while those injured decreased from 832 in 2017 to 177 in 2019.
According to report the decrease is the result of the education programmes provided to various group of road users, through which various activities were conducted towards protecting children on using roads.
Data from Amend Tanzania, a non- for profit organization working to save lives of children indicates that every 4 minutes a child is prematurely lost on roads.
It is estimated 2 million children worldwide each year miss education through death or injury in road traffic crashes, thus affects their future dreams and expectations.
These traumatic events cause great physical, social suffering, economic hardships and medical costs to families and friends and the government as well.