Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) Chief Executive Officer Zindaba Soko says he also pays fines for exceeding speed limits on Lusaka Highways which have been installed with traffic cameras.

And Soko pledged that RTSA would, in the first quarter of 2019, engage the public to make people appreciate the decision.

This came to light after Economist Chibamba Kanyama ignited a social media debate concerning the “frustratingly” low speed limit declared by RTSA, which he said has forced motorists in Lusaka to drive as though they were in a long funeral procession.

On his Facebook post, Kanyama stated that with such regulatory laws in place, even the seven per cent GDP growth rate would remain just a dream.

“Vehicles in Lusaka now drive as though they are in a long funeral procession. Some vehicles beginning to be mechanically stressed on 60km/h on roads like GER (Great East Road). I foresee the seven percent GDP growth rate a pipe-dream until we make realistic decisions about such seemingly inconsequential laws,” Kanyama’s post read.

Reacting to Kanyama’s post, one concerned motorist named Niven Kambobe doubted if the country would develop and suggested that the Road Transport and Safety Agency should reconsider its decision.

“In this modern day you put a speed limit of 60km? When are we going to develop for crying out loud? Time is a great asset that we must guard and use properly in order to develop therefore let them reconsider their decision,” Kambole stated.

Another motorist named Oliver Simunika urged the RTSA boss Zindaba Soko to revisit the decision because it was a loss on productivity to the nation.

“Zindaba Soko sir…The issue raised by Chibamba Kanyama here is a testimony that we can’t be driving at 60kms as a nation…it’s a loss of productivity as a nation. We spend more time on the road. Secondly, a lot of complaints are raised by citizens with regards to road signs which were only put up after complaints. I actually still have a problem with cameras installed to capture the back of vehicles. How do you drive at 80km and from nowhere reduce to 60km? This is not fair but clearly a witch-hunt for citizens. The fee itself is very high, why?” Siminuka asked.

Then a Simenda Knight Silumesi equally agreed with Kanyama and stated that the 60km per hour drive limit on highways was a sure cause of traffic jams.

“Zindaba Soko I seem to agree entirely with Chibamba Kanyama. A few examples I note [are] Church road at 40km/h and Great East Road at 60km/h appear to be too low. The result has been constant build-up of traffic on these roads. On the other hand, Leopards Hill (around St Mary’s school) at 80km/h appears too high. We need to make necessary adjustments for the good of the citizens and the economy at large,” Silumesi argued.

Another motorist using the name of Gerald Mangani Msoni Chimtenje also added his opinion saying “Zindaba Soko all I can say is that you have a lot of work on your table. You can afford to ignore public outcry in the name of enforcing the law which I guess is dynamic.”

And a Prudence Chikonka Musemuna stated her experience of driving at a snail’s pace was sickening.

“It’s no longer exciting to drive on the Great East Road. I had a bad experience last time I was in Lusaka. Driving at a snail’s pace. It’s quite sickening,” she argued.

A Jairus Mwamba Mulenga suggested that RTSA should revise the speed limit from 60km/h to 80km/h on busy roads.

In reacting to Mulenga’s suggestion, Kanyama stated that motorists were reasonable enough to know how to drive their vehicles.

“This is the most reasonable speed. If anything, on those rare tracks with 80km/h, people drive generally at 72km. In short people are reasonable enough to know how to drive their vehicles,” he said.

As the debate raged on, the RTSA chief executive got involved and said the agency would hold a Public Discussion Forum in the first quarter of 2019 to get people to understand its decision.

“I will be holding yet another public discussion first quarter 2019 for people to understand and please be alive to our media statements and briefings. However upward adjustments of speed has to be done with certain considerations like road furniture for other vulnerable road users, cyclists and pedestrians alike,” Soko responded.

And motorist, Igwee Musefwe, reminded Soko that the speed limits would haunt him once he stops driving RTSA vehicles which are exempted from paying fines.

When you are in charge, you enjoy the privileges of not being fined especially that you are using a RTSA vehicle, you won’t fell the impact. But that time when you will be like us, that is when you will feel the impact of this snail pace we are complaining about,”

But Soko wondered why an ordinary motorists would complain when him, as RTSA boss, also pays speed fines.

I drive at the same speed, and I have paid tickets before, so if I can pay, why can’t you?” asked Soko.

Meanwhile a Glenn Malwa Mwika told Soko that there was already enough feedback from the debate above to help him draw a better strategy.

“Zindaba Soko there is enough feedback on this forum for you to actually draw a strategy which could include and not limited to. (i) Revision of speed limits to reasonable ones and as practical intervals all things considered, (ii) introduce tolerance in the calibration of the cameras, (iii) Extend efficiencies introduced in speed limit fee collection to every other touch point-especially road tax payment,” stated Mwika.