Tapman: No way, I only budge for the presidential motorcade

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Driving along Rekayi Tangwena on Wednesday, I witnessed a disturbing event.

A fire engine, that was sounding its siren was trying desperately to get through traffic, heading towards Workington, but noone seemed to take heed or move out of the way.

The poor driver of the fire engine had to drive like an ultra-possessed kombi driver, weaving in and out of lanes, circumventing human traffic, street lights and poles, in order to make headway.

On the same day along Sam Nujoma, near NSSA, I witnessed His Excellency the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe’s motorcade pass by.

Within five seconds of hearing and seeing the first police motorcyle, not a single car, human being, apartment rat or Avenues cat was on the street, probably all the way to Mazoe, rightly and respectfully giving way to the passing convoy.

I immediately recalled witnessing an accident just outside Parirenyatwa Hospital, where an ambulance driver, who was transporting a critically ill patient, and had been sounding his siren all the way, went cautiously through a traffic intersection, only to be hit by a speeding kombi driver.

Back in the office, I began to ponder, on the startlingly different responses to sirens.

Whilst I can fully understand why drivers in traffic would respectfully and hastily exit in order to make way for the presidential motorcade, I couldn’t fathom why there was absolutely no movement, when there was an obvious crisis that the fire engine driver needed to get to.

Why is it that the ambulance driver had to drive at extra cautious speeds even though they were clearly making it known, by sounding the siren, that they were in a mad rush to save lives?

The insane thing is that should the same nonchalant drivers unfortunately require any of these emergency services, they would expect them to be at their door within half a second.

I can imagine these same drivers throwing epic diva tantrums, in the middle of a cardiac arrest needing resuscitation procedures on them.

Whilst we all grudgingly accept that kombi drivers have their own set of self-made rules, does this also include them placing their jobs at the same level as those in emergency services?

In the case of the “emergency taxi” driver who collided with the ambulance, is it possible that he considered himself a critical service supplier whose job it is to transport people to and from different destinations, at supersonic speeds, with the expectation that all other traffic should make way for him?

Way back in days gone by, when I got my licence, we were taught to rapidly move aside and make way for police cars, ambulances and fire engines.

I now wonder if there was an unspoken sudden change to the traffic regulations, that I, being old school, am unaware of — perhaps this could be due to the fact that the era I got licensed was closer to the days when horses and donkeys were used as inner-city transport.

In light of this, could someone out there kindly tell me, what new silent traffic regulation advocates for the total disregard of sirens sounded by emergency service vehicles?

Do people’s lives not matter anymore, or is it so important for us as drivers to stay put on the road, with no exception, even for those racing to attend to an emergency?

Your comments are most welcome. Email oldschoolvalues@ymail.com