Local public transport operators have pleaded with the traffic police and department of road transport and safety (DRTS) to take firm action against reckless bus drivers as a way of curbing carnage from road traffic accidents.
The bus operators were speaking during a conference on the Accident Free A1 Act Now! Campaign held in Gaborone this week. Their comments followed comments by police traffic director Senior Assistant Commissioner Katlholo Mosimanegape who revealed that they have recorded 319 fatalities from January to date, a figure way above the 272 recorded last year during the same period. Mosimanegape indicated that most of these fatalities involved buses with the most common cause being over-speeding and aggressive driving.
The operators feel that the law should deal directly with drivers who commit traffic offences on the road rather than the police resorting to flagging their vehicles when the driver has not paid his fines.
John Ramolala of JS Transport said public transport drivers who commit road traffic offences should be handed lofty charges. He said the drivers should be jailed and their public service vehicle (PSV) operator licences revoked.
“The police are doing a lot on our roads, but it is the drivers who continue to cause these accidents. Sometimes they commit these offences knowing that they will not pay the fine and the charge would be left to the owner. When you catch them arrest them and take their PSVs,” he said.
Ramolala admitted that most road accidents involving public transport such as buses are caused by over-speeding. He said bus drivers are competing among themselves on the A1 road, which leads to fatal accidents.
Seabelo Tlhaselo of Seabelo Express concurred with his counterpart saying the nation cannot afford to lose lives through road accidents caused by reckless drivers.
However, the transport mogul said operators should take the responsibility of monitoring their buses. He advised
“Let’s introduce speed control devices in our buses. Our drivers are always overspeeding. We are a developing country, so there is room for change. I have been a victim this year. I can tell you that since I introduced the speed control system, I have seen a 20% reduction in accidents and the number of tickets has also reduced. Buses must be tracked,” said Tlhaselo.
Tlhaselo’s double decker bus was involved in a tragic accident near Mosaditshwene in June this year, which claimed six lives.
Tlhaselo said with the high number of fatalities along the A1 road, people were losing confidence in the their businesses as their safety is not guaranteed. He feared that eventually, bus operators will lose their market share and blame government for re-introducing the passenger train, which is considered safe by travellers.
Obert Kebitseng of OB Express complained of pirating along the A1 road, which he said has increased traffic density along the road. He called on the law enforcement officers to take action against this growing trend as it creates unnecessary traffic and competition for customers along the road. He also said there is need to educate bus drivers on road safety.
For his part DRTS acting director, Bokhutlo Modukanele said he will look into the issue of speed control systems to see if it cannot be made a law.
He said they will introduce double charges for drivers who are caught for over-speeding. Modukanele also advised bus operators to be firm on their drivers as they risk losing their permits if their drivers are found wanting by the law.