Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The government should ban male drivers on passenger buses

Sometime last year a passenger bus on the Mwanza - Musoma highway overtook a car I was driving and hardly ten seconds later smashed head-on against another oncoming bus. Death toll 12 and scores injured.

There are many character differences between males and females and I believe one of these might be the solution for avoiding, or at least reducing, road accidents on Tanzania's roads. The male drivers who sit behind the wheels of the country's passenger buses do not appear to care about the safety of the passengers they drive. The principal concern of most of these drivers is how fast they can drive from point A to point B and any consideration that the excessive speeds they are used to might prevent anyone from reaching point B is hidden or eludes their intellectual capacity and collective experiences.

Women are different in how preoccupied they are inclined to preserve rather than to end a life, particularly if its someone else's life. I have seen a photograph of a woman who having walked for days from a hunger-stricken area reached a relief camp with her child on her back. She died on a crouched position on all fours because she did not want to crush her child strapped on her back. The malnourished child survived.
Over speeding was the cause of this bus, plying between Tarime and Mwanza, to veer off the road near Mwanza on 18th October 2012. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported.
I was once approached by a woman whose husband had lost all his property to con men including an oxen plough that could have provided cash by hiring to farmers. He was ashamed to beg from neighbours for food; she, rather than see her children starve, walked more than twenty kilometres to ask for my assistance.

When the ill-fated bus overtook us I told the passenger sitting next to me how dangerous it was to drive on the unpaved road at a high speed and I slowed down to allow the dust ahead of us to clear up. When it did, hardly ten seconds later, we saw debris on the road and the bus that overtook us was lying on the ditch on the left side while the other bus it had struck was in the same position on the right side of the road. One passenger was attempting to get out of one of the bus windows.

The point at which both buses struck each other told the whole story; they were both severely damaged on the drivers' sides. Having seen most of what happened I could tell that either one or both of the bus drivers had strayed too far inside the opposite lane. To make matters worse that section of the road was under rehabilitation and any car ahead kicks up so much dust as to reduce visibility to a very short distance. A truck driven in the opposite direction minutes before the impact had exacerbated the already poor visibility. The driver of the bus that overtook us was driving at an excessive speed in a dust cloud and  without a clue of the whereabouts of incoming traffic that was approaching from the opposite direction.

There is another issue that should be tackled when addressing the incessant bus accidents on Tanzania's roads.  Most of the drivers on Tanzania's roads obtain their driving licences even before they learn how to drive. After driving behind a car from a driving school with a student driver and instructor on the road and having being signaled to overtake on a blind spot, I can also conclude there are probably few driving schools that actually impart even the most basic driving skills.

My point is that even the worst women bus driver in Tanzania will not drive blindly in a dust storm at more than 100 kilometres per hour without having a clear vision of the road ahead. Men will continue overtaking where they should not and continue risking the lives of other passengers without an iota of concern that things do not always go as planned.

Banning male bus passenger drivers will most certainly reduce bus accidents.

1 comment:

Brian Singer said...

Agreed!