Mwanza. The government yesterday pledged to probe all accidents that have involved journalists in motorcades of top leaders to tame the deadly incidents.
The commitment comes after five journalists were among 15 people killed in a grisly road crash in Simiyu Region on Tuesday.
Speaking in Mwanza during a farewell ceremony to bodies of five journalists and a driver at Nyamagana Stadium yesterday, Information, Communications and Information Technology minister Nape Nnauye said the detailed investigations will help the government to take action.
“There have been accidents in various motorcades of government leaders and unfortunately, the main victims of these accidents are journalists. My leaders have been concerned by this and they told me to go through all the accidents that involved journalists in the motorcades. The Police will bring us a report of these accidents and we will go through them to see why they involved journalists so as to take action,” said Mr Nnauye.
He said the report would enable the government to put in place some protocols and environment that would guarantee the safety of journalists who are in the convoys of officials.“I promise my leaders and journalists that we will fully monitor and ensure that you remain safe as you fulfil your responsibilities,” he said.
Mr Nnauye said the government move was aimed at ending or reducing road accidents.
Some of the latest accidents include that of December 3, 2021 which involved journalists travelling with Mtwara Regional Commissioner Marco Gaguti in Newala District.
There have been speculations that reporters are normally given vehicles of poor condition that cannot match the convoy speed.
Some stakeholders mentioned quality of vehicles used by journalists and some government drivers’ negligence of road safety rules as some of the causes of accidents in the motorcades.
“I have participated in several trips of a district, regional and even national officials. Most of the vehicles assigned to reporters are of poor quality and are not capable of racing against the vehicles used by officials in the convoy. This causes them to be left behind and so the drivers do extra work including speeding to catch up with the rest,” said a reporter asking not to be named.
Mwanza Regional Press Club (MPC) chairman Edwin Soko said on top of investigating the nature of accidents involving journalists in convoys, the government authorities should enforce compliance with road safety rules for all drivers regardless of their titles or institutions.
“The government should focus on the competence and accountability of its drivers as experience shows that most accidents involving government vehicles are due to negligence,” said Mr Soko.
The Commander of the Traffic Police in the country, Mr Wilboard Mtafungwa, said the law enforcers will not turn a blind eye to road traffic offences involving government motorists, saying that no driver is above the law.
“All drivers are responsible and bound by road safety laws regardless of whether they are driving a private, public or government vehicle. We will launch a special operation to control not only government drivers who violate road safety rules, but all drivers,” said Mr Mtafungwa who also attended the farewell ceremony for the late journalists.