The authorities are expectedly bracing for a sudden spike in deadly accidents beginning this Monday February 8 caused by speeding motorists rushing to beat the 7pm curfew time.
For the past three weeks, the capital city Kigali has been in a special total lockdown to control spread of the COVID-19 virus. Starting Monday, the lockdown will end, as other measures remain in place also enforced countrywide.
The night curfew will start 7pm to 4am. The last time government put the curfew at this time, there was a shocking rise of accidents as drivers and moto taxi riders rushed to reach home, otherwise they risked sleeping in the stadium.
According to Traffic Police data released early September last year showed that between March and August 2020, some 1,826 accidents were recorded – many of them deadly.
However, of this full total, 744 accidents or 40.7% happened between 6-7pm during the few weeks when the curfew hour was at 7pm.
Regulations in place require that once you are caught beyond the curfew hour, you spend the night in a nearby stadium plus a fine. For drivers, they pay for themselves and the vehicle.
The inconvenience of sleeping in the cold alone meant many drivers, caught up busy during day or in traffic jams especially in Kigali as curfew approached, drove at killer speeds to get home.
The many accidents that happened during that period were the talk on Rwandan social media and local radio talkshows. The general position was that having curfew at 7pm was not workable as many people worked late. Some blamed traffic jam in Kigali. Others said there were not enough public buses during rush hour, which left many opting to take moto taxis at last minute.
Cabinet responded by extending the curfew to 9pm, and at some point 10pm.
However, the fact that businesses and offices will, starting Monday be required to close at 5pm, gives a 2-hour window for drivers and everyone to be home.
In addition, unlike the previous months, this time all government employees will be working from home, so are majority of private sector workers.
Perhaps with less vehicles on the roads, the spike of accidents, if it happens again, could be minimal.
Below is the latest Cabinet statement whose COVID-19 regulations come into force on Monday February 8