Public transport: Do passengers have any rights?
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Transport and communication are very important aspects of socio-economic and political development. Public transport is extremely important as it brings populations of remote areas into the realm of development. However this sector has been plagued by road traffic accidents that have claimed human life and thus impeding passengers' right to life.Having realized the importance of transport in national development and the consequent alarming loss of human life- a vital resource in national development-the Road Traffic Act, 2002 was enacted to provide inter alia: for the establishment of the Road Transport and Safety Agency; for a system of road safety and traffic management; for the licensing of drivers and motor vehicles; for the registration of motor vehicles and trailers; for the compulsory third-party insurance of motor vehicles; for the licensing and control of public service vehicles; for the promotion of road safety; for the regulation of road transport between Zambia and other countries...and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing. This Act primarily enhances operations of the transport sector thereby providing duties and rights of a passenger. Despite the existence of this Act, road traffic accidents have continued to happen at an alarming rate, and in some instance, claiming human life- a phenomenon one cannot place a price tag on. Zambia, as an economy moving from a monopolistic nation that solely depended on copper for its foreign exchange to one encouraging other economic ventures like tourism and agriculture, greatly needs to improve the operations of the transport sector because increased trade in the wake of further economic specialization will also require more transportation of goods and people. This will indeed induce economic development. But who would want to invest in a nation where human life is not adequately preserved as seen from the rising number of road traffic accidents?It is for this reason that this essay is primarily concerned with the rights of a passenger as outlined in the Road Traffic Act, 2002.The first chapter addresses the relevant provisions of the Road Traffic Act, 2002 that improve and ensure road safety by providing for the rights and duties of passengers. The rights identified in the chapter include the right to be driven by a sober and qualified driver and the right not to board a public service vehicle carrying passengers in excess of the prescribed number. These rights are provided for in section 56(1) and section 115(2) of the Road Traffic Act, 2002 respectively.The problems encountered on public transport by road passengers in relation to road traffic offences with specific reference to the Road Traffic Act, 2002 are examined in Chapter two. In this vein, passengers have identified the carriage of passengers in excess of the permitted number, drunken driving and excessive speed as some of these problems.Chapter three is a discussion of the major causes of road traffic accidents in Zambia. The chapter analyses the road traffic accidents situation in Zambia. Drunken driving, exceeding speed limits and recklessness are some of the causes of accidents in Zambia.The construction of the provisions of the Road Traffic Act and the lack of supportive legislation are some of the difficulties faced in implementing the provisions of the Road Traffic Act, 2002 in an effort to protect the rights of passengers. These are discussed in Chapter four.Since public safety is one factor that is of concern to both the general public and the government, there is need to sensitize the passengers that they do have enforceable rights that would greatly preserve their right to life and property as most of the causes of road traffic accidents are preventable. In addition, there is need to amend certain provisions of the Road Traffic Act to enhance passengers' rights. Accordingly, the concluding chapter addresses proposed legislative enactments that would adequately address and enhance the rights of passengers so as to reduce the high prevalence rate of road traffic accidents.
- Law