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BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
The old adage “you learn some new everyday” must have rang true for Gaborone North Member of Parliament Haskins Nkaigwa on Monday, November 12 when he learnt ,for the first time it seems, that the speed limit for Gaborone’s Western Bypass is in fact 60 km per hour.
While it may have been common knowledge that the speed limit within semi urban and urban or built up areas respectively is generally 60km per hour in Botswana, evidently that common knowledge may not be as common as it had been previously thought. Directing a question to Minister of Transport and Communications Kitso Mokaila in Parliament last week, Nkaigwa asked the Minister to brief the Honourable House on whether there are plans to reduce the speed limit along the Western Bypass from Kgale-Game City to Mmamashia to 60km per hour due to the fact that the road is no longer a bypass and pedestrians cross the road from either side on a daily basis.
“The speed limit from Kgale-Game City to Phakalane Junction is currently 60km/h so there is no plan to change anything,” Mokaila stated the obvious.
Nkaigwa had also wanted the Minister to state the number of pedestrians who lost their lives crossing the Western Bypass and if there are plans to install traffic lights by Sebele Cooperative entry road, Glen Valley entry road and all other entry and exit roads along the Gaborone North Farms.
“The number of accidents is 34, 27, and 14 representing 2016, 2017 and 2018. Pedestrians that have lost their lives are eight, six and five respectively as at October 2018,” the Minister responded, adding “There are many junctions between Sebele and Mmamashia, and the introduction of any traffic lights will disrupt the traffic flow.”
Nkaigwa advised that the Minister consider erecting traffic lights from Gaborone’s Airport Junction shopping mall up to Mmamashia to protect the lives of the people considering the number of accidents that have occurred along the road.
“Between Sebele and Mmamashia all the turns come in, actually they all go left except one. Secondly, the introduction of traffic lights because of the violations only increase accidents. If he is comparing them to Mogoditshane, he will see that there are feeder roads coming from both sides unlike the road he is talking about,” Mokaila responded.
The Gaborone North legislator also asked the Ministry to consider overhead bridges along the Western Bypass to protect pedestrians. He said people have died but it seems like the Government does not care about the lives that have been lost.
“This notion that Government does not care about its citizens is not true,” Mokaila said. “The reality is, what we ought to have created, are what we call service roads parallel going to a main junction and that is what I am preaching within the ministry in terms of what we should do to main roads so that we do not disrupt traffic flow and we save lives. The other thing we are considering is that, I am talking with the police, we are thinking of introducing Automated Speed Traps that would slow down traffic because they will be more disciplined.” Regarding the overhead bridges, Mokaila said history could prove them right because the majority of pedestrians will continue to cross roads and as such building them is not the solution.