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Alcohol levy canít halt drunken driving

NNASARETHA KGAMANYANE
Beer is expensive nowadays, so are traffic fines, which offenders have to pay through their noses.

It was in 2008, when President Ian Khama suggested an alcohol levy, among with numerous interventions, as the solution.

Government introduced the alcohol levy and enacted traffic fines that have been burning a hole in the pockets of speedsters and other traffic offenders.

But to this day, it does not look like beer guzzlers have a second thought about guzzling the holy waters- even the famous ‘one for the road’- before drunkenly slumping behind the steering wheel.

But according to an observation by the police at a symposium in Gaborone last week, the measures appear to be unable to make headways against the evils.

Botswana Police deputy director, Committee Tlalanyane, speaking at the Alcohol and Substance abuse Symposium said drunken driving offences have shot up by 292 percent since alcohol levy was introduced in 2008 to curb alcohol abuse in the country.

From 1, 538 cases of drunken driving offences in 2009, police have recorded 4, 495 cases in 2013 and the trend has been consistently on the up year by year.

In 2009 there where 1, 538 cases of drunken driving that in 2010 had shot to 2, 464.

In  2011 there were 2, 740 cases that shot up again in 2012 to 3, 748 before another rise in 2013 of recorded 4, 495 cases in that year alone.

“In fatalities (road death accidents), police have recorded a

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total of 2, 170 deaths between 2009 and 2013,” he said.

According to Tlalenyane 475 deaths were recorded in 2009, and 397 in 2010, while 483 were recorded in 2011.

There were also 404 deaths in 2012 and 411 in 2013 from road mishaps.

The police chief said that the trends showed that drunken driving cases were escalating instead of abating.

“Even though we implemented different strategies to reduce drunken driving, the trend continues to escalate.

According to the police chief, Botswana ranks second after South Africa (SA) in high number of road fatalities amongst Southern African Development Committee (SADC) countries.

Tlalenyane noted that looking at our small population, these statistics were a great concern.

“Most of the road accidents are caused by excessive and improper speed, consumption of alcohol and drugs or fatigue and disregard to road signs and regulations which are all influenced by drugs and alcohol consumption,” he added.

Furthermore, he pointed out that passengers die in large numbers. He said that was caused by families or friends who travel together in large numbers.

Some participants suggested that government should consider reducing the alcohol levy and increasing bars and nightclubs closing hours to accord people time to drink in a more relaxed climate.

“Drinkers should not be guzzling too much alcohol in order to make up for the little time they have,” said a participant.



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