THE Zambian Roads & Highway Safety Group (ZRHSG) says traffic police officers can be champions of road safety if they are trained to prioritise road safety awareness among motorists.
Congratulating new Inspector General of Police Lemmy Kajoba, group administrator Mthoniswa Banda said it was not right for police officers manning roads to be issuing fines and tickets all the time.
Banda said the Highway Safety Group was excited that a person of Kajoba’s character and experience had been selected to head the Zambia Police Service at a time when the institution’s input in road safety and road maintenance was required.
“The Highway Safety Group wishes to bring to Mr Kajoba’s attention the numerous reports by anti-corruption organisations like Transparency International that identify Zambia Police, especially the traffic section, as one of the most corrupt government departments,” he said in a statement. “The Highway Safety Group is aware that there is a tendency to set up road blocks in hidden and isolated places and speed traps in places where motorists have trouble maintaining a lower speed limit such as down the hill.”
He said such speed traps and road blocks were set up on special days like Fridays and month-ends when the police officers needed money.
“The Group is aware that these roadblocks and speed traps are never meant to enforce the law, or ensure compliance with safety regulations of motorists or vehicles, but are there to collect moneys through bribes for the police officers manning those check points and their superiors,” Banda added. “The Highway Safety Group understands that working in the traffic section of the Zambia Police is more lucrative than working in any other beat/duty of the Zambia Police and this is because of the daily cash-ins that these police officers knock off with.”
Banda said the group was also aware that the pre-occupation with collecting bribes from motorists had led to many unroadworthy vehicles being allowed to pass through checkpoints.
He said the group was also aware that many accidents reported from the Zambia Police were issued without thorough investigations and fell shy of identifying the root causes of many road accidents.
“The Highway Safety Group therefore wishes to advise that the operations of this section be reviewed and many corrupt officers transferred to other duties. The Highway Safety Group also proposes that traffic officers working in these departments be trained in how to prevent road traffic accidents by reducing the number of road blocks set up and avoid setting up checkpoints at blind curves and in hidden areas,” said Banda.
“The Highway Safety Group further urges that these traffic officers be trained to collaborate with other road safety and maintenance agencies to identify accident-prone areas of the highways and uncongested areas where speed limits need to be increased to allow for smooth and accident-free flow of traffic. Traffic police officers can be champions of road safety if they are trained to prioritise road safety awareness among motorists on the roads as compared to issuing fines and tickets all the time.”