The Road Traffic (amendment) Act comes into effect on Wednesday despite negative criticism thrown at it by the public.
The Act, which was passed in Parliament in December 2008, has had the country in jitters ever since the announcement of its intended implementation.
Batswana are said to be complaining about the high charges enlisted in the Act, citing that some of them would end up in prison because they wouldn’t be able to afford to pay the impossibly high amounts.
The Minister of Works and Transport, Johnie Swartz, had addressed such complaints as a result of years of stagnant levels of fines and penalties that didn’t arouse any effect on motorists as the fines had been progressively affected by inflation.
“The significantly increased levels of fines is one of the strategies involved in fostering better driving standards, better driving ability and road courtesy,” said Swartz.
Some people are complaining that the police are given too much power to do as they please and fear that bribery is likely to increase.
One motorist pointed out that he doesn’t think the new Road Act would help curb the number of accidents as he thinks the Act would present itself as a field day for some of the corrupt Botswana police officers.
As it stands, there are cases where cops have allegedly taken bribery money for lighter charges, now that the fines are extremely expensive to pay off, the police are likely to also request a hike in bribery money offered to them.
“In fact, I am sure the government is aware of briberies received by police officers and the only reason they are implementing this ridiculous Act is because they know they haven’t looked into salary increments for the police,” said the motorist.
Contrary to the disturbing negative perceptions which have been expressed by the public towards the Road Traffic Act, the minister insists that the amendment is a noble act that was initiated as a strategy to curb the increasing number of road accidents and deaths associated with them.
Another motorist was worried about the P5000 fine that would be charged on anyone who witnesses an accident and fails to report it to the police, saying that such an issue might be morally binding but is not a legal issue.
The motorist went on to reveal that it was up to a human being to do the right thing of reporting the accident not to be forced to do it, giving examples of how people who are in shock might not be in a state to remember that they have to report an accident.
The one amendment that most Batswana seem to not have a problem with is the P3000 fine on anyone who doesn’t have a license.
It is alleged that although it hasn’t been proved, some, if not most of the people involved in accidents, whether minor or major, are people without licenses.