By Basadi Morokotso
The escalating number of road traffic offences in Maun has been linked to lawlessness by some motorists. In just one day, a total of 484 vehicles were reportedly nabbed in an operation carried out by the Department of Road Transport and Safety (DRTS).The number includes people who were caught driving with false number plates, those who used expired driver’s licenses or those who did not have licenses at all.
All arrested were whose vehicles were found to have un-roadworthy tyres, as well as those who were found to be driving in a reckless manner.
At a media briefing prior to the world day of remembrance for road traffic victims in Maun on Saturday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications Kabelo Ebineng, who also sits as the National Road Safety Chairperson noted that the number is worrisome, more so that it was recorded in just one day of the ongoing process. He pointed out that they are going to have to invest on how they interact with road users and what is expected of them, particularly the youth as they are the most active group.
Ebineng said the inclusion of the youth in this was influenced by an observation that they are the most vulnerable group most involved in road accidents. He called for other stakeholders to also contribute meaningfully and help spread the message to help reduce accidents. He said the strategy that they are currently working on is aligned to that of the United Nations which seeks to reduce road accidents at least by half in the year 2020. Another observation according to Ebineng has been that a good number of roads in Botswana have become so torn and dilapidated as they are regularly used by heavy load vehicles, hence the immense damage in most of them.
“We have battled for many years with road accident statistics in Botswana as a whole. We have through the behavior portrayed by some motorists also lost people who would have immensely contributed to the economy of this country. But we remain hopeful that with your partnership and contribution we will be able to fight this” said the Permanent Secretary.
Quizzed on how the department intends to address the issue of cattle roaming the streets of Maun and as a result causing accidents, Ebineng admitted that indeed there is such animals are a concern.
He said they cause confusion to motorists and contribute to the many accidents. He made an assurance that they will in the near future put up tenders for companies to debush roads so that animals do not get in the way for motorists. However his concern was that after acquiring tenders, people do not do work according to tender specifications.
“This has forced us to come with a conclusion that whoever gets a tender and does a shoddy job will always be recalled to do such works at their own expense. We are interested in people who show seriousness in all works allocated to them, which is why we feel it is high time we also protect ourselves”
Responding to a question on a tendency by traffic division of Botswana Police to mount hidden road blocks and if that act is allowed, Director of Traffic Katlholo Mosimanegape said there are different methods which are used by traffic police to apprehend offenders. He said naturally when looking for people who disobey any other law, there has to be a particular way of apprehending them. Nevertheless he was quick to hasten that they do not encourage their officers to be hiding all the time considering that the safety of such officers is also at risk and therefore a concern to BPS.
“I always tell them not to do it in a way that will not put their lives in danger, even though they have a duty to ensure traffic laws are obeyed at the end of the day”, he said.