Zambia is one of the most highly urbanized Countries in Africa, with 44% of its 20 million population living in Urban areas. The Urban Towns of Zambia are located along the main transport corridors, meaning nearly half the population is exposed to potential risk of Road Traffic Crashes (RTCs). This is more so because the Railway Transport system is currently deplorable, leaving Road Transport as the most favored and dependable mode of transport. RTCs in Zambia are compiled and documented by the Traffic Section of the Zambia Police. The latest statistics were collected between January 2021 and December 2021 and are derived from the 2021 Road Transport and Safety Status Report. During that period, Zambia recorded 32,372 RTCs, with 2,163 (6.7%) RTCs being fatalities. Of all the fatalities, 66% involved vulnerable road users, which included pedestrians (49%), Motorcyclists (12%), and pedal cyclists (5%).
Initial road safety challenges
The Zambian profile shows that vulnerable road users need to be prioritized and catered for. 5,307 were serious Road Traffic Crashes (RTCs) during the same period, while the rest were Slights. Zambia is partitioned in 10 regional provinces; generally, the most urbanized provinces have a bigger share of RTCs. For instance, Lusaka Province, where the Capital City is located, accounted for 17,774 (55%) RTCs, while the remote Northern Province of Zambia recorded only 614 (1.9%) RTCs. Urban roads accounted for 76% of all the RTCs, while inter-town roads contributed 24%. In summary, results show that the most predominant contributory factor was human error at 87.85%. Other contributory factors included vehicle defects at 1.25%, road defects (0.32%), adverse weather conditions (0.18%), wondering animals (1.14%) and the rest were untraced.
Lusaka is the capital city of Zambia and arguably the most populated town of the Country, with a population of about 3 million circa. It is centrally located and links the North, South, West and Eastern parts of the Country through the road network. While the most dominant mode of transport visible in Lusaka is walking and cycling, Lusaka lacks designated walking facilities for its population and affordability to buy and own pedal bicycles is beyond the majority of the Lusaka residents. People, therefore, predominantly rely on small mini-buses for their daily commute and form part of their main public transport. Sparingly, people who can afford to own cars rely on this mode of transport to move around town. Since the liberation of public transport in the 1990s, there has been an influx of people investing in small minibuses to address the precarious public transport system at the time. This led to overcrowding of this form of transport on the roads of Lusaka, effectively causing traffic congestion, unruly driver behavior, and unprecedented pollution levels.
Lusaka is experiencing a steady increase in motorization without planning for and having corresponding adequate road safety systems in place to control the rising number of RTCs. Lusaka city accounts for 55% of the RTCs, with 17,774 road traffic accidents having been recorded last year. The key contributory factors to RTCs are motorist errors such as excessive speeds, failure to keep to the nearside, misjudging clearance distance etc.
Demo-action 1: Non-motorised user safety mapping
This demo aims to utilize the existing walkability app to collect geolocated citizen reports of where they feel safe as pedestrians in Lusaka. The trained data researchers can record the perceptions of at least 200 volunteer citizens. The app geocodes the reports and allows observations to be categorized with predetermined criteria to make interventions that target specific concerns. The researchers ask the participants to share information on their age, gender and ability using broad categories. They are also asked to share information about their trip purpose, group size and familiarity with the walked environment. These broad categories will help the researchers analyze the data through a web-based dashboard to understand how the walking environment is perceived differently by people of different ages, genders and abilities. There is potential for the walkability perception map to inspire a program of low-cost interventions that help make the environment safer in Lusaka.