Caleb Embodies the Human Capital Cost of Traffic Accidents

Mar 7 , 2020
By Eden Sahle

Traffic accidents are rampant to the point that it is difficult to find people who have not been affected by them. Thousands of people die every year, causing a huge socioeconomic loss. Despite having one of the lowest car-to-population ratios in the world, our country, unfortunately, records one of the highest rates of car accidents.

It was one of these accidents that claimed the life of Caleb Meakins, co-founder of Bake & Brew. Two days before his accident, he gave me a ride home. On our way, we discussed the ups and downs of life, London’s weather, work and politics. He was a great listener, and when he spoke, he imbued me with wisdom.

When we reached my home, we hugged and scheduled to arrange a meetup after he returned from his trip to London. We never did because, on the night of his flight, Caleb got into a fatal car accident.

Our nation was robbed of a person who never missed an opportunity to encourage, inspire and motivate. He was a son, a brother and a dear friend to many of us, but most importantly he was a man of great faith, a defender of human dignity and a brilliant entrepreneur.

Death is cruel. It is crueller when the reason is a senseless, avoidable traffic accident, leaving us with the agony of trying to adapt to a world without him.

The number of road fatalities in Ethiopia should alarm us. In the first half of the 2016/17 fiscal year, 2,315 people lost their lives, while around a quarter of a billion Birr worth of property was lost, according to the Federal Police Commission. Alarmingly, the lack of adequate means to address the problem will make road accidents the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.

The societal and economic losses caused by car accidents are extensive. This damage does not arise only from the cost of treatment incurred each time there is a traffic accident. The damage sustained to our productivity, when we lose skilled and entrepreneurial human capital, such as the likes of Caleb, is unparalleled.

Traffic accidents cost most countries in the world three percent of their gross domestic product, according to researchers. Reducing road traffic deaths and injuries could result in substantial long-term economic benefits for countries like Ethiopia, according to a study by the World Bank.

What is heartbreaking is that road accidents are preventable with effective road safety implementation. This is possible only when there is a mindset change among drivers and pedestrians.

Initiatives should also include making sure vehicle safety features remain in check. Primary focus should also be given to improving post-crash care for victims of road accidents and educating hospitals in emergency care intervention.

A more stringent focus on awareness creation for drivers, to help them make the right decisions would perhaps be most effective. More responsibility among the people that make use of the vehicles and could reduce the number of traffic accidents.

Perhaps with such efforts, we could add a little more predictability to our lives. Caleb had understood that this will not happen always and that surprises are everywhere. As a result, he lived life to the fullest. He was incredibly compassionate to everyone and lived purposefully.

Every great thing starts in the mind. It begins with the thought that we can make a difference in the world we are living in. Caleb allowed his imagination to run wild, inspiring many along the way.

Life is truly as great as we make it. Great character and purposeful life are inseparable. Caleb had been a real life manifestation of this. To those of us who had the privilege of knowing him, losing him will continue to agonise us. But it also teaches us that it is not how long we live but how purposefully we live that matters the most.

It is only a tragedy that something as entirely coincidental as a traffic accident could stand in the way of people such as Caleb, talented individuals who would have gone on to do great things for their communities.

PUBLISHED ON Mar 07,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1036]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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