Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How bribery put our lives at risk in our roads.

This Sunday I had a great time with my wife and my sister's family at the annual Discovery Radio 702 Walk the Talk at Emmarentia. What I love about this event is that one is able to spend a quality time with family while having fun and exercising. In addition to that, through one's participation one is able to offer disadvantaged children an opportunity to be someone through some monies that goes to the charity. Because the event is open for everyone, some companies enter as a team and this gives them a chance to market themselves.

For the first time this year, besides Shout SA (which advocates for Crime Free SA) I also saw an organisation that is advocating for safer roads in South Africa and the mobilise were asking for everyone to put a signature for their support. Though I did not really see who they are but I recall seeing the AAs, so my guess is that it was AARTO, which is the The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences. But anyway, whoever they were does not have to do anything with this topic, what I want to talk about is the rife bribery that is happening in our Licensing department and the traffic officers.

Perhaps I may start by defining what a bribery is. A bribe a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift given that alters the behavior of the recipient. In our licensing department, it is well known that it takes months for one to book to write a leaner's license and then months again to test for a driver's license. And what is worse, if you do not have the monies to bribe a tester your chances of failing are almost 100%, irrespective of how a good driver you are. It is no wonder Magistrate Daniel Thulare said that learners who had been struggling to make an appointment for a driver's licence test should not be held criminally liable for driving without a licence once their learner's had expired. Our Minister of Transport, whose department is falling into pieces because of their inability to manage our roads/subsidies and our licensing institutions said Thulare's comments were "disconcerting, misleading and totally unethical".

In a country where roads death accounted for about 14 200 of the 1.3 million road deaths annually worldwide in 2008, this is unacceptable. It is a fact that some causes of these accidents are as a result of people not being fully trained for driving because it does not matter whether you know how to drive or not, what matters is if you have the R2500.00 to bribe the testers. Another contributing factor is the fact that traffic officers, increasingly ignore the road worthiness of the cars after getting a bribe. What is even more worse is that it is already a culture that a traffic officer get bribed
or else he will give you a ticket. It is no wonder that our world ranking on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is going down every year. For instance, in 1999 we were ranked number 34 alongside Tunisia. We beat countries like the Czech Republic, Italy and Argentina. In 2007,we came number number 43, just behind the Czech Republic and Italy at 41 while Tunisia jumped to number 61.

Did I just hear you saying how bribing a traffic officer actually put my life at a risk? Consider the following scenario. You are coming from a club early one morning and you are stopped by traffic officers who ask you for your driving license. After taking a long look at you and having been satisfied that you are the real owner of the license and that it is not a fake, they ask you to take a breathalyser test which you fail. He tells you that he is "hungry" and knowing what he means you then give him a R50.00 and he lets you off the hook.

You then get into your car and off you go but as you turn right into your home street you knock off a kid who was trying to cross the street. So for R50.00, you paid the life of a kid who has not tested what life is. Some people will say it was her time to go, but I don't think that's the case. You would have killed her and even if they call it culpable homicide the fact of the matter is you not suppose to drink and drive.

So when you bribe next time, do it at your own peril.

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