On Friday, 17-year-old Nawal Mohamed died from severe head injuries after he lost control of his motorcycle in southern Addu City.
His death, the sixth fatality in Addu City, has revived calls for a law on mandatory helmet wearing. The parliament threw out a bill requiring helmets in August.
“Nawal’s father asked me to do everything I can to enforce helmets in Addu. A majority of fatalities here are caused by head injuries,” said Mayor Abdulla ‘Soabe’ Sodiq.
“Everybody wants to implement a policy of wearing of helmets and some people even use it now, but we have no authority to enforce a policy as the parliament rejected helmets and the government has stripped the city council of all of our powers,” he said.
In April, MP of ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives Riyaz Rasheed submitted an amendment to the Land Transport Act giving authority to the government to enforce a policy on helmets, but the bill was thrown out.
“Most of the MPs did not want this bill. This is something that must absolutely be done. If such a policy cannot be enforced because of a legal loophole, then it means we MPs have not fulfilled our jobs,” he told The Maldives Independent.
Imthiyaz Fahmy, an MP with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, said the bill might have been rejected because parliamentarians did not want to enforce helmets in the narrow streets of Malé.
“Wearing helmets and driving on big roads like the link road in Addu would be the safest way,” he said.
Some 50 dangerous accidents have been recorded on the link road or causeway connecting Addu City’s islands this year alone.
PPM Vice President and MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem too backed the wearing of helmets in Addu City, and said he would back a new bill if “worded right.”
Meanwhile, the police in partnership with insurance company Allied Insurance have launched a second awareness campaign in Addu, “Rakka” or “Be Safe” on the dangers of speeding.
Workshops will be held and road safety signs will be placed, the police have said.
Ahmed Saudhy, the deputy commissioner of police said speeding is the main cause of dangerous accidents in Addu, and highlighted the need for people to follow traffic rules and regulations. He also called on parents to stop minors from driving.
The campaign began on Saturday and will continue until the end of the week.
Mayor Sodiq welcomed the campaign, but said: “I don’t see any boards on the roads, there are no speed cameras or speed breakers. This should be a collective effort, the number of dangerous accidents will not end just by conducting campaigns.”