The Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) says it was not its intended plan to use speed cameras mounted on major roads in the country as a source of government revenue. The Agency claims that the principle behind the move was to inspire behavioural change among motorists who drive carelessly.

To this effect, RTSA head of public relations, Mr Fred Mubanga, says the organization is not disappointed that motorists have overwhelmingly complied with the imposed speed limits; instead he says, the Agency is happy that the laws are being followed.

“On the speed cameras, it is true that the compliance levels have improved, meaning that the number of people who are being charged for these offences has reduced. That’s the correct picture and that was the idea behind implementing this project. So, that was anticipated, and it was not about revenue collection, but changing the drivers’ attitude. Therefore, it cannot be true that we now intend to install secret speed cameras to catch unsuspecting motorists,” said Mr Mubanga in an interview with News Diggers!

When this idea of mounting speed cameras on our roads was pitched to the Zambian people, many opposed it, but we supported the Road Transport and Safety Agency on this move because we shared the view that traffic surveillance cameras can go a long way in curbing road accidents.

“Only a fool would argue that there is no need for speed cameras on the roads when death statistics from traffic accidents are in plain sight for all to see. In fact, we don’t know of any major city out there in the developed world where there are no highway speed cameras or where motorists are allowed to drive like racing mice in a maize field. Road safety is key to any developing nation,” we wrote in our Editorial Opinion of September 4, 2018.

But a new problem has been created by these speed cameras, which deserve the urgent attention of the implementing Agency and all relevant regulatory authorities. People have complained that the prescribed speed limits on some roads in Lusaka are inimical to the interest of increased human productivity.

Motorists are disagreeing with RTSA that the 80km/h driving speed, which the Agency has allowed on a narrow single lane Leopards Hill Road around St Mary’s Secondary School in Lusaka is very dangerous. It is dangerous for motorists, cyclists, pupils, pedestrians and any other road user, and they want the road safety Agency to quickly reduce that speed. Is that a bad suggestion? No! That shows that motorists are not irresponsibly excited to speed anyhow on these roads.

Motorists have also complained that the ridiculous 40km/h speed limit on the wide-stretched Church Road and 60km/h on the Great East dual carriageway is unthinkable. Surely, forcing motorists to drive at 40km/h on a clear highway cannot be said to be a measure for preventing road accidents. Driving at 60km on the way to the airport is simply inconsiderate.

If motorists have proved that they are compliant to traffic surveillance rules, why is the Agency adamant to adjust these speed limits to a realistic maximum? It’s money they want. But RTSA needs to know that when human beings realize that the powers that be are not listening to them, they will get tired of being compliant and it will be unsustainable to punish all the 750,000 drivers every time they exceed speed limits.

You cannot create laws that make human life more difficult. It is simply foolish, especially if the people whom the laws are intended for, have rejected them. Laws were meant to make life easier for everyone. We expected that the RTSA leadership was going to be grateful to the motorists for this insightful feedback, but what we heard from the Agency chief executive officer disappointed us.

Over the weekend, economist Chibamba Kanyama raised this concern on his social media pages, saying a ‘snails-driving pace’ could actually have a negative effect to the growth of the economy, and commenting on the posting, one of the motorists reminded those who work at RTSA that one day, they will no longer be driving special-pass vehicles and the speed cameras would haunt them.

To our surprise, the RTSA boss Mr Zindaba Soko said even now when he is driving the Agency vehicle, he contravenes traffic rules and he also pays fines like everybody else. In fact, he bragged that if him, as RTSA boss, can pay speed fines, why should an ordinary motorist complain? How strange, so the RTSA CEO also doesn’t follow the speed limits? This was unbelievable!

We are glad that Mr Soko was kind enough to confess that he doesn’t obey traffic rules; that he exceeds the driving speed limits and pays fines “like everybody else”. But we would like to remind the RTSA boss that, unlike everybody else, he is the law enforcer, therefore, he cannot be proud of breaking the laws while expecting citizens to obey them.

In fact, Mr Soko was lying that he pays for traffic fines. We challenge him today to produce receipts for the payment of traffic fines so that we examine them and see if, indeed, he actually gets punished when he breaks the law. He doesn’t have any receipts to prove this because it is simply not true. We actually doubt that there is any RTSA employee who doesn’t get a waiver when they contravene traffic rules, so how can it be possible that a junior officer can pursue the CEO for payment of a traffic fine? Shame on Mr Soko for spoiling a progressive speed camera initiative!