The right to life is guaranteed under Article 14 of the official Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania since 1977. The constitution states that every human being has the right to life and protection to his or her life. Despite this, the right to life in Tanzania continues to be denied through number of factors, one of the more prominent causes is that concerning road accidents.
According to the Legal and Human Rights Centre’s 2012 Human Rights Report, an average of 4,000 people have lost their lives due to road traffic accidents in the years between 2010 to 2012. The report says that human error has been mentioned as the major factor of road accidents in Tanzania and this is indicated by factors such as speeding, negligent drivers, driving while drinking, using cell phones, failure to respect and obey traffic regulation, as well as corrupt traffic police.
Wilphred John and Juma Othman are both bus drivers in Dar es Salaam. They believe that the reason behind a majority of road accidents is that most of the traffic police who supervise transport are so corrupt that they fail to be responsible and effectively do their job. Instead, they ask for money from drivers who disobey the laws that should be followed. They also said that car owners neglect to ensure that their vehicles are well-serviced and operating well before driving on the road.
Talking to some passengers and pedestrians, they said that the government of Tanzania should effectively intervene in these issues by enforcing strict laws for those who disobey road safety policies and they must make sure that they guarantee licenses only for professional drivers.
Statistics shows that Dar es Salaam is the leading city for road traffic accidents resulting in death compared to other regions in Tanzania. From 2010 to 2012, 11,438 accidents and 431 deaths were registered due to road traffic accidents, as reported by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Traffic department in 2012.
The Chairman of Dar es Salaam Road Safety Board, Mr. Elifathili Mgonja, said that 302 people died in 276 road accidents in Dar es Salaam between the period of January through June 2013 alone. Tanzania Regional Commissioner of Dar es Salaam, Mr. Jordan Rugimbana, said that statistics show that 25 percent of people who die from road traffic accidents in Tanzania are children.
Mr. Mgonja said that road accidents can be avoided through observing the laws enforced by the police. He added that “proper education in traffic rules and regulation needed to be imparted on drivers and motorcycle riders which will help to ensure that they have knowledge on proper use of road and this will ultimately curb accidents.”
Scolastica is a student at St. Augustine University of Tanzania, studying a degree in Mass Communication. Scolastica aspires to be an internationally recognized journalist of human rights. She hopes to become the voice of the voiceless.
After completing her studies in Journalism and Mass Communications, Joniah hopes to become a competitive writer and reporter of different issues, both domestic and international. Jonia plans to focus on the violation of human rights in her pursuits.