The Botswana Police Service (BPS) vehicles accidents cost government P1.5 million in 2016.
The Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi revealed this when officially opening the 45th Botswana Police Senior Officers Annual Conference held at the Special Support Group (SSG) Hall yesterday.
Kgathi expressed the concern over the growing incidents of BPS vehicles being involved in accidents stating that for the year 2016 only 414 BPS vehicles were involved in preventable accidents.
He said the accidents have resulted in cumulative reduction in government vehicles allocated to the BPS and thus the loss of revenue in terms of repairs totaling between P1 million and P1.5 million.
The conference is held under the theme, ‘Towards Safer and Secure Communities: 2017 and Beyond’.
Kgathi said while he has noted with appreciation the fact that there may be several external factors, which have had an influence on the accidents involving police vehicles, it is difficult however to balance the role of such external factors compared to the fact that the reported accidents are said to be preventable.
Kgathi said the most frustrating and disappointing thing is that the custodians of the traffic laws are the ones who are violating them.
He said in terms of branches, SSG recorded the highest numbers followed by the Transport and Telecommunications Branch (TTB).
“In terms of policing districts, No. 3 District of Broadhurst in Gaborone is the highest with 72 accidents followed by No. 13 District of Mogoditshane with 64 accidents with No. 1 District of Kutlwano police in Francistown being third with 31 accidents,” Kgathi said.
He said by disclosing this shows that it is about dealing with a serious and real matter and the need for care and accountability by officers across all stations in respect of the vehicles allocated to them.
He said as their superiors they are collectively held accountable for the accidents, which are now being regarded as reckless use of the BPS vehicles.
He said this now threatens the efficiency and effectiveness that the police are known for.
“This must come to an end, otherwise why are you in the business of policing when you are the ones who need to be policed?” he asked.
He added: “Your commissioner often presents varied challenges you often experience in terms of competing demands for your services in many areas, which he believes contributes directly or indirectly to your accidents. The overriding definition of such accidents is that they have been defined as preventable,” Kgathi said.
He said the understanding is that the driver of a particular vehicle was expected to have seen and managed the risk factors prior to the accident.
He called upon individual officers, officer commanding and the entire BPS to work on this unfortunate phenomenon.
He said any organisational culture could be redefined much more rapidly by negative perception than its positive attributes.
Kgathi however said he was pleased that the police commissioner has put in place strategies for dealing with the growing number of accidents involving BPS vehicles that include defensive driving training and imposing surcharges on those affected.
“I am also informed that the commissioner also intends to improve the turnaround time for appeals against all disciplinary and financial surcharges laid against concerned officers by placing them before the police council in compliance with the Police Act,” Kgathi said.
He said that he trusts that these initiatives will bring about change, enhance commitment in the management of resources in the overall reduction of accidents involving police vehicles.