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Tighten rules to stop carnage on the roads

THE launch of the strategy and action plan for the decade of road safety by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili last week suggests a refreshing commitment by the government to finally curb the carnage on our roads.
The move comes against the background of shocking statistics of hundreds of Basotho who needlessly perish on our roads every year.
According to government statistics, at least one person dies on our roads every day.
About 380 get maimed, some of them for life, every year.
These figures are too high for a small population of 1.8 million people and are a sheer waste of human and capital resources.
Something must be done now to stop the carnage.
But we believe launching the action plan was the easier part.
The biggest challenge is whether the government can muster the political will to act to ensure the safety of all road users.
The consequences of failing to act are too ghastly to contemplate.
It is important to point out that a lot of resources have already been ploughed into road safety campaigns in the past.
The results have however been disappointing.
We believe we need renewed commitment from all road users to make our roads safer.
However, achieving this goal will take more than mere statements of intent.
Road users must undergo a thorough re-education programme to ensure safety for all.
The key in taming the ‘traffic jungle’ lies in tightening the driving licensing process. The current process is allowing far too many drivers with little understanding of road rules to be unleashed on our roads.
These “drivers” have little respect for human life.
The issue of road safety is inextricably linked to the problem of corruption in Lesotho.
We cannot ensure safe roads unless we tackle this monster of corruption that allows incompetent drivers to acquire driving licences with ease.
Such drivers are a danger not only to themselves but to all other road users.
The government must tighten the issuing of licences to ensure that only competent drivers get to be on our roads.
The police must also step up their surveillance to enforce road rules.
The current laissez fare attitude on our roads must be brought to a halt immediately.
Traffic fines imposed on those who flout road rules must be reviewed.
The current fines are way too low to act as deterrents.
Those who willfully flout road rules must feel the pain of their recklessness.
Mandatory prison terms could serve as a deterrent.
Reckless drivers must be asked to engage in some form of community service.
We know there will be uproar from taxi drivers if the government tightens road rules.
But the government must not flinch from its commitment to ensure safety for all road users.
The price for inaction is way too high.

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