Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Traffic fines Fund keeps growing

The 2017/2018 financial year was a bumper one for the Road Traffic Fines Fund, giving credence to widely held claims that the police service has been urged to come down hard on motorists with heavy fines.

The fund established in 2009 has cumulatively raked in about P342.8 million, of which was credited to the Botswana Police Service. In 2017/2018 financial year, the Traffic Fines Fund collected P95.6 million, the biggest since its inception. As things stand, the fund has collected about P9 million in the first four months of this year.

Ever since the establishment of the Fund, the Botswana Police had to parry claims that the police targets motorists for the slightest offences and issuing heavy fines to that effect. In 2017, Keabetswe Makgophe, Botswana Police commissioner, said the police collect between P1.5 million to P2 million per week from traffic fines. The commissioner has since denied that they have set targets for the amount of money to collect.

The fund which is managed by the Registrar and Master of High Court has given the Botswana Police leeway to spend the collected funds instead of channelling the monies to the consolidated fund.

The Botswana Police has so far exhausted P231.6 million of the funds, representing 67 percent of the cumulative collections. The bulk of the funds have been gobbled by purchase of police vehicles and other accessories related to police work, accounting for 76 percent of the expenditure, while other expenses include; traffic law enforcement equipment (10.9 percent), traffic law enforcement equipment maintenance (6.5 percent), road safety workshops & campaigns (2.4 percent), and a misallocation of P9.3 million (4 percent) paid to Ipelegeng workers.

In explaining the misallocation, Shaw Kgathi, minister of Defence, Justice and Security, said about P14.7 million was sent to Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) to pay police volunteers and special constables. The anomaly was picked up the Auditor General as misallocation in the report for the financial year 2013/2014.

Prior to the misallocation was that the police commissioner would pay salaries and allowances for police volunteers and special constables using funds from the levy, and then pass a claim to MLGRD for reimbursement. The Auditor General determined the arrangement as irregular, and directed that the misallocation should be corrected.

“Out of the P14.7 million which was the misallocation, P5.4 million was adjusted by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and reimbursed, leaving outstanding balance of P9.3 million. This outstanding balance is still a subject of discussion between Botswana Police and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, as well as the Auditor General,” Kgathi explained.

The minister further told parliament that the closing balance in the Botswana Police Traffic Fines Fund stood P111.3 million. Out of this amount, P100.3 million has been committed to Botswana Police for the procurement of vehicles, motor cycles, traffic law enforcement equipment, accessories and other necessities required in the Botswana Police. The remaining P10.9 million will be used for public education campaigns and related activities aimed at reducing road traffic offences and accidents.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.