‘Carrying children on bodaboda is violation of traffic laws, rights’

09Sep 2019
James Kandoya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
‘Carrying children on bodaboda is violation of traffic laws, rights’

SALUM Jamary is making a living by working as a bodaboda rider—motorcycle taxis commonly known in Dar es Salaam and other parts of the country.  He has been in the business for the last five years.

Children carried on motorcycle to school at Tegeta suburbs on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. Photo: James Kandoya

Every day, Jamary has a contract of picking two school children, one aged five and the second aged seven to different schools in Gongo la Mboto area on the outskirts of the city.

Jamary carries the two pupils to their designated schools. As per contract, Jamary earns 28,000/- per week, which for him is a good money.

But, Salum and the parents of the two children seem unaware of the transport and licensing Act that prohibits children to be carried on the motorcycles which is in – line with section 14 (1) of Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA) legislations which say: “A child of the apparent age of nine years of age or under shall not be carried on motorcycles

Also section 14(2) states: “A child of the apparent age of nine years of age or under shall not be carried on motorcycles as a passenger unless he is accompanied by an adult.”

“Although we carry children on our motorcycles, the business is too risk since children have no protective gear that can protect them in the event of a crash.” He says.

Principal Legal Officer at Traffic Headquarter in Dar es Salaam, the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Deusi Sokoni says that carrying children on motorcycles is violation of traffic laws and is equally a violation of children rights.

According to Legal officer, traffic laws prohibit strictly children less than nine years to be carried on the motorcycles.

“If parents want to protect their children they should stop carrying their children on motorbikes,” he says, adding: “If stern measures are not taken then children are at risk of facing deaths or injuries, which eventually leads to very prohibitive treatment costs.”

Sokoni says the challenge is that carrying children on motorcycles in urban areas is the order of the day and sometimes becomes difficult to deal with them because like to happen on the outskirts of the city

The figures from Emergency Medical Department (EMD) at Muhimbili National Hospital, shows that motor-cycle leads the way by contributing 51 percent of road crashes risking  more children.

The Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018 also indicates that head injuries are the leading cause of deaths and major trauma for two- and three wheeled motor vehicle users.

Report reveals that correct helmet use can lead to 42 percent reduction in the risk of fatal injuries and a 69 percent reduction in the risk of head injuries.

“Enacting and enforcing legislation on failing to use motorcycle helmets and other key risk behavior factors including speed, drink-driving and non-use of seatbelts, child restraints are critical components of an integrated strategy to prevent road traffic deaths,” recommends  the report.

Even Jamary admits: “Much as they carry children on our motorcycles, the business is too risky since children have no protective gears of their own and motor cycle driver comes into conflicts with parents and again becomes liable for violating traffic laws on the other hand in case of a road crash.”

According to him, increased awareness on traffic regulations for both parents and drivers on the risk they take when riding children on motorcycles will alarm them to take necessary precautions.

One of the parents in the area, Mwajuma Habibu says: “I’m forced to use bodaboda to transport my children to school and back as a cost-effective and convenient means of transport available in our localities."

Mwajuma is aware of the dangers of using bodaboda, but, “I have no choice, because this is the only means of transport I can afford.”

Dr Kennedy Nchimbi, specialist in orthopedic and trauma surgeon at the Muhimbili Orthopedic Institute (MOI) describes brain trauma as one of the fatal risks that persons riding on motorcycle without wearing helmets suffer in the event of a road crash.

“Head injury is a common cause of death and long-term disabilities after motorcycle crashes,” says Dr Nchimbi.

However, Dr Nchimbi is more concern with inter cranial brain trauma saying road crash victims are at risk of losing consciousness and sometimes may lead to have  mental illness.

“Brain is the driver of all activities in the human body, therefore once disturbed; a person’s judgment ability drop to zero”, he says.

Underscoring the importance of wearing helmets, Dr Nchimbi says: “The brain must be protected by wearing helmet to reduce inter- cranial trauma or internal bleeding rates which in most cases cause permanent disabilities.”

“Unless the amendment on the Road Traffic Act of 1973 on helmet use and enforcement are implemented then the number of victims associated with head injuries will double,” he warns.

Appropriate helmet use decreases risk of injuries by 69 percent and deaths by 42 percent.

“I think it is important to prevent the impacts of motorcycle crashes by supporting and passing the Road Traffic Act Amendment that includes provisions that require both motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear quality standard helmets to save lives.”

This is due to the fact that, Road traffic crashes is the number one global cause of deaths among youths: Its Amendment must contain key measures that protect young motorcycle riders such as the mandatory use of quality standard helmets which could save their life.

The number of bodaboda has increased rapidly in recent years, changing the face of accessibility and mobility.

In urban areas for instance, motorcycles are used to avoid congestion, often as taxis, and in rural areas motorcycles are often the only form of motorized transport available.

In view of the fact, thousands of youth are benefiting from employment and business opportunities.

However, safety is a major concern: the numbers of motorcycle- related deaths and injuries has increased as the number of motorcycles operating in the country increased too.

According to Global Status Road Safety Report 2018, motorized two- and three-wheelers user’s represents 28 percent of all deaths reported in the world while Pedestrians and cyclists represent 26 percent.

In Tanzania, it is very unfortunately that  the current Road Traffic Act of 1973 does not neither impose an obligation to the rider to wear helmet nor describe the correct way of wearing helmet accordance with national and international standards.