There is no doubt that motorcycle taxis, popularly known as bodabodas, have to a great extent helped to ease long-standing transport problems both in urban and rural areas since they were allowed to carry passengers about a decade ago.
Bodabodas are the quickest way to get around in congested cities where traffic jams are the order of the day and have provided people in rural areas with affordable motorised transport where previously there was none.
However, there is a dark side to bodabodas that seems to have stubbornly refused to go away. Bodabodas have now become synonymous with serious accidents that kill and maim hundreds of people every year.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 6,529 people were killed and 30,661 others injured in 31,928 accidents involving bodabodas and motorised tricycles, popularly known as bajajis, from January 2010 to February 2017.
The safety record of bodabodas is particularly appalling, and it is generally agreed that motorcycle taxis are the least safe mode of transport. It is time measures were taken to end this scourge.
One of the leading causes of bodaboda accidents is overloading, particularly in rural areas and on the outskirts of cities and towns, where operators know that their chances of being arrested for flouting road safety rules are minimal. Occasional police crackdowns have done little to curb the menace.
It is up to commuters to put their own safety first and refuse to ride on overloaded motorbikes. Very few people, if any, can claim not to know that bodabodas are authorised to carry a maximum of two people—the driver and one passenger.
We will see a drastic reduction in the number of accidents involving motorcycle taxis if all bodaboda drivers and passengers adhere strictly to road safety regulations of their own free will and not because they have been intimidated into doing so.
Invest more in burn units
News from Mwanza-based Bugando Medical Centre (BMC) that it has opened a surgery unit for treating burns is encouraging. Such treatment was previously available in Dar es Salaam and Arusha only. This means that the development is a big plus for the healthcare system in Tanzania.
Domestic fires are common in the country. Most of the time, it is children who are most affected.
Depending on the severity of the accident, burns occur in degrees ranging from first to fourth – that is, from less serious to extremely serious.
Medical attention is needed for all degrees of burns, but this is most needed for third and fourth-degree burns in order to try and prevent further complications and even death.
While it is important to provide more education to the public on how to prevent both domestic and industrial fires and how to save lives and property, the country’s preparedness towards treating burns is very important.
The government needs to invest adequately by opening similar burn treatment units in every district hospital. Education on preparedness should start from lower primary school as it is children who are most affected during fire outbreaks.
The private sector can also chip in to improve services provided.