Government has announced some new changes in how drivers’ licenses will henceforth be issued and acquired.
Our position is that the new initiatives show imagination on the part of the authorities and will go a long way in reducing accidents while engendering maturity and a sense of responsibility among the rooky drivers.
Road accidents remain a leading cause of premature deaths in Botswana.
The misery and emotional sadness caused by road accidents cannot go on, and we draw solace from the fact that government is taking responsibility by coming up with ways that will hopefully reduce the carnage that happens in our roads on a daily basis.
Under the new rules, trainees will have to pass the road signs test before they can be issued with provisional licenses.
That, to us, makes a lot of sense.
People have to show some level of seriousness and responsibility before they can get behind the steering wheel.
The past arrangement where every Jack and Jill could just walk into the offices of the Department of Transport, pay some nominal fee and call themselves a Learner Driver was ill conceived.
Such an arrangement presupposed that everyone who aspired to become a driver was a responsible and mature person.
As we all know that has not always been the case.
By making it a little more difficult to even become a Learner Driver government has done a lot not just to increase safety levels in our roads, but to also save lives.
Only those who qualify to even aspire to become drivers will get a chance to entertain such ambitions.
Knowing how difficult it is to get a license only the serious minded will give it a try.
A lot has been said about the quality of driving schools.
Even more has been said about high levels of official corruption among the licensing officials.
There have, in the past, been incidents of collusion between officials and driving schools.
These are not only concerns of corruption.
The serious part of it is that people who are not ready to get licenses end up receiving such documents only to go on and kill innocent people in the roads.
We urge the Ministry to take stock of its officials and not hesitate to take disciplinary action.
If it means bringing the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, so be it.
There is nothing more important than saving lives.
Another thing that we think should be done is for government to come up with strict code under which these licenses will be revoked should it be found that the holders are not living up to the conditions under which they were issued.
In many countries that is standard practice.
In Botswana while such a law exists, it is seldom enforced.