Flag the driver’s licence, not the vehicle!
Someone asked on radio call-in the other day what does it profit government to flag vehicles instead of flagging drivers’ licenses? I thought his was a valid, rationale reasoning. Come to think of it, why should traffic police flag a vehicle, as if it is self-driven? A car is just a tool, an object for man’s travel means. In our setting, whether a manual or automatic make - it is driven by a person, and for a person to drive, he/she must be licensed. Now when this individual drives a given car and encounters an accident, drives recklessly or overspeeds the traffic cop will slap the culprit driver with a fine or at worst flag the vehicle. The sad thing is that the car may not be the driver’s – it could be a company car or he/she could have borrowed it. When the company or owner of the car goes to pay the annual registration fee, he finds, unbeknownst to him, that his vehicle has been flagged yet he never ran into any trouble with the law! But because he has to use the car, he has no alternative but to pay the fine, whilst the real culprit is left off the hook! This is not fair at all. Flagging the driver’s licence would help instil a new driving culture in our drivers – a culture of courtesy and care for one another; a culture of defensive driving and in the long haul, we would drastically reduce the numbers of road fatalities. I say, bring it on, it’s the best thing to do. Let us join hands if you find this proper, to lobby for this change at Department of Roads Transport and Safety. On the same topic, I hear that owners of our unformal driving schools that operate under trees are catching hell all thanks to the new regulations and requirements that DRTS has imposed on driving school operators. In order to run a driving school you now need to have an office and ground allocated by the landboard! Someone whispered to me that these are tactics by some BDP fatcats who want to crowd out the ordinary people and monopolise this space. They say these hotshots pull the pursestrings and incidentally are in the business of buying and selling vehicles! The fatcats are worried that ordinary Batswana have managed over time to eke out a living and provided for their families through these driving schools which they run at undesignated points under trees that dart the length and breadth of the country. They now want to snatch the opportunity away from them and throw these ordinary Batswana into the ranks of the unemployed so that they push the rate of joblessness much higher. Have you ever wondered where were all these drivers that we have in the country trained? Which office did they register at? Ask your legislatior, your minister, your lawyer and judge? They all acquired their licenses from training and studying under those trees! Now, what value-add will offices make to the running of these driving schools? Perhaps we need to rethink this name – is it a driving school, academy or what really are these? If you say a school or academy it presupposes certain conditions – it supposes that the instructors employed at the school or academy must also have gone through some rigours of formal training; they must be qualified and certified! Certainly this will throw out all the driving schools in their current shape and form to the doldrums. I suggest that government starts with empowering the owners of these schools and training (of course at a fee) the instructors employed there. This gradual transition is necessary to avoid suspicions of ill-will from Batswana, which are presently engendered by the conduct of DRTS! I understand that some 600 applications have so far been received but that only two have been approved! If this be true, which I have no reason to believe it is not, it would be a sad day for us because it would mean that some 598 people have been rejected because they can either not afford to rent or build offices or cannot get grounds from landboards! If we really mean to talk about an inclusive economy, we must be careful not to alienate the informal sector, but instead to gradually integrate it into the mainstream of the economy, lest our pious declarations come to zilch! Yet again, I hear some people are unable to transfer ownership of their vehicles because the DRTS and BURS have frozen issuance of blue books! What is really happening? Can we stop this madness and serve the people! If Nigerians evaded cusoms and excise tax at entry points, please don’t pass the burden of blame on the poor citizens – just deal with the culprits but for God’s sake, serve the people!