The move by Parliament to push for the scrapping of spot fines demanded by traffic police is a step in the right direction as the country takes steps to stamp out endemic corruption within the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
But the parallel call to prohibit second-hand tyre imports — deemed a major contributor to traffic accidents — though welcome, should be implemented when the country can produce enough tyres for the domestic market.
It is, therefore, imperative that an enabling environment be created for local tyre manufacturers to meet demand.
It is, however, laudable that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development in the National Assembly came up with the proposals as the country’s transport network has become a national catastrophe both in terms of the rampant corruption and bad driving habits.
There are arguments that spot fines encourage corruption among traffic police, since offenders might prefer to pay much less than the penalty value to the person collecting the fine.
Regrettably, the ZRP now prioritises collecting spot fines in order to reach set targets ahead of passenger safety because, after collecting the fines, they allow unroadworthy vehicles to proceed.
The motoring public is agreed that spot fines and the “targets” by the ZRP should be abolished and offenders must be given seven days to pay the fine.
Spot fines must be applied only to foreigners!
The current situation where police prefer to fine commuter omnibus drivers for serious defects and let them proceed on their routes has a bearing on the safety of passengers.
While the spot fines are meant to reduce indiscipline on the country’s roads and prevent minor traffic offences, they have led to major traffic accidents and that is unacceptable.
Their intended purpose of ensuring increased compliance with road traffic regulations; facilitating and quickening the administration of justice for traffic offenders regarding minor offences; reducing pressure on the police and the courts with respect to the process and adjudication of minor offences, though noble, has been usurped by greedy traffic police and errant public transport drivers.
The situation is untenable and needs a radical shift in policy and a revamp of the police force for the good of the country.
Other laudable reforms proposed by the portfolio committee are that the government must increase the fines charged for traffic offences to make them deterrent enough, as well as enactment of appropriate regulations on driving hours, vehicle movements, and restrictions on tractors and other farming equipment, construction equipment and tankers carrying hazardous substances so they do not move at night.
It is important that the rough edges of the Traffic Act be refined to curb corruption and improve road safety.