Monday, September 21, 2020

ROAD TRAFFIC FUND: EMPOWER POLICE OR MOTORIST?

Dear Editor,

The decision by the Ministry of Defense and Security, presumably, to create a Road Traffic Fund (RTF) is a welcome decision. It is welcome for the same reasons other countries establish Alcohol Tax Funds (ATF).

The RTF goal need be to benefit the undisciplined motorist and those affected thereby. The goal of the ATF need be to benefit the alcoholic and those affected thereby.

We don’t currently have an alcohol tax fund nor have we yet received a clear official commitment to that all income collected from liquor taxes shall be used to rehabilitate alcoholics and those affected by their conduct.

Likewise, the specific beneficiaries of the recently established Road Traffic Fund need be asocial motorists and those affected by asocial driving habits. The items on which to spend the fund could be on construction and maintenance of road systems, street lights, defensive driving skills courses, mitigation programs against exhaust fumes, message boards for motorists, rebates to encourage purchase of bicycles, public education programs on road safety. These are some of the justifiable uses of the proceeds of the fund.

At no time was the purpose of the “stinging” road traffic laws or the alcohol tax laws intended to empower or enhance the efficiency of the police or of the Ministry of Defense. Not before or during their inception. Or were they?

Mmegi (22 May 2009) reports that the Road Traffic Fund has been established and that the proceeds of the fund shall be divided equally between the Ministry of Defense and the Police and that the share for the Police shall be used to purchase operational requirements for the road traffic police (breathalyzers, speed cameras, uniforms etc).

But it is an international misnomer and quite possibly a case of an offense to the public by the state to wastefully direct traffic offense funds and or alcohol tax revenues to public programs unrelated to the responsibility to also rehabilitate perpetrators of road and alcohol abuse.

Advocated for here is, the recent traffic laws and the liquor tax half bake the dough when they exist to only become punitive. The urge for more breathalyzers, speed cameras, police uniforms are efforts at more punitives. But punitive measures alone are hardly sufficient incentives to restrain wrongfulness and the harm it occasions. We need rehabilitative and or compensatory directives to accompany the punitive road traffic and liquor laws. We need to find ways to endear voluntary not merely compulsive compliance to public obligations as motorists and liquor consumers.

I believe that the moral foundation of the recent road traffic amendments and of the alcohol tax was meant to sculpt afresh the conduct of the motorist and of the alcoholic consumer, citizen and guest alike. I believe too that the goal was to cut down the number of unnecessary losses of valuable life occasioned by asocial conduct of motorists and liquor consumers in this country. I imagine that motor Insurance company turnovers have also been significantly enhanced thereby.

If the police are experiencing destitution of operational material to execute their punitive function, they are well advised to justify their operational demands to the Ministry of Finance, rather than look for a quick fix to an internal problem, with funds sourced from and belonging to a different constituency. The Ministry of Finance isn’t known to unreasonably refuse ministerial budget demands.

But could someone please advise the Ministry/s concerned to recommit the Road Traffic Fund exclusively to purposes already outlined and for reasons put forth.

Also, could someone please have the rightful authority establish an ATF to reconstruct abusers of liquor and to compensate/support/counsel those affected thereby.

We all want a Botswana in which the choice not to do wrong is voluntarily adopted, not just compulsively enforced.

As Michael Krauss of the George Mason University School of Law rightly observes: without a wrong there is no corrective justice requirement.

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