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ROUGHSHOD: Motor Accidents: Road, Vehicle Or Human Errors 

By Bouddih Adams

Within a period of less than a month, several express bus services were involved in accidents on the same stretch of road, in which, put together, at least 20 people died and many were maimed, for life. One, in January, involving the GCE Board personnel, took away eight lives and, another, February 14, involving the KAMI Voyages bus service, snuffed way seven lives. The Ministry of Transport has, consequently, suspended KAMI Voyages (see separate story).
Many have been rendered incapacitated. Children have been orphaned; women widowed and men turned widowers; friends and loved ones lost, just because someone tried to do a little more than warranted or a little less than permitted. 

And when one imagines that a miserable "little" costs the life of a human being, which the Almighty took all the time to design, create and put everything on earth – large or little – under him, then, one must infer that: Never in life, should so much be lost for so little. All road accidents are due to a little more or a little less something.

If the proprietor of a vehicle fails to spend a little number of CFAs; or a driver rests a little less or drinks a little more; or the government refuses to spend a little more to maintain roads; or the vehicle inspection officer ignores a little the fault in a vehicle; or the policeman or woman decides to earn a little more CFAs and let go defaulting motorists or faulty vehicles, and that little action or inaction costs a thing as large and precious as human life; that little thing is a grave sin. It is, in fact, the largest sin. That sin must be destroyed even if it requires force as large as the holocaust, or a vessel as large as Noah’s Arc.

Roads Don’t Kill?

Government and road makers can be said to have done so much, but, at the same time, so less. In my little travels, I have never noticed as many man-made bumps (speed breaks) any where as are on our highways. I guess the reason of transport authorities for so many, was to reduce speed and reduce the butchery on our highways.

A famous musician, Black Rogers, is acclaimed for his tract: "La route ne tue pas…" (Roads do not kill…) Quite axiomatic! But the stretch of road in the Mungo is, simply, bad. It is narrow, potholed and cracks-ridden. Some accidents have been reported in which the driver tried to dodge a pothole, only to slam into an oncoming vehicle or plunge into a ditch.

The stretch of road through the Mungo is the link between greater-Littoral and the West and the Northwest Regions. Mungo is, arguably, the biggest division. Mungo Division harbours part of the long carriageway that bears all commuting between the Northwest and the West to and from the Southwest and the Littoral Regions. It carries the heaviest traffic in the country – heavier than the much talked about Douala-Yaounde carriageway. It also registers the highest number of accidents.

An authority in the field of Transport, Arthur Ekeke Lysinge, maintains that there are three kinds of causes of road accidents: "human error, bad roads and poor state of the vehicle." It was generally believed that the introduction of the electronic driver’s licence would reduce what has come to be known as: ‘the painting of our roads red, with human meat and blood.’ 
Defective Vehicles As Death Traps

The state of some vehicles that ply our roads is so bad that they are death traps. What then is the use of the Vehicle Testing Centres, VTCs? Their apparatus and service are very effective but the fact is that some drivers or vehicle owners don’t go for inspection. Nevertheless, some of technicians operating the VTCs are also proving to be complacent, which is very bad.
However, causes of accidents are 80 percent driver error, 15 percent road, and 5 percent due vehicle, according to transport authorities.

The bottom line here is that if traffic rules are respected, the roads are in good stead, and the vehicles are in good shape; accidents would be significantly and markedly reduced. But, the authorities owe those who have lost loved ones and the entire society a little more than suspension of licences. Something more rigorous, like legal action and imprisonment, must be meted as a deterrent. This should apply to all stakeholders: the motor owners, drivers, VTC operators and, why not, transport officials.

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