Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Zero Tolerance should be Implemented

Recently the taxi drivers in Namibia have threatened a strike because of the high cost of fines being paid for traffic violation. One of the most common is where the taxi driver stands at an illegal area such as a red or yellow lined street corner or sometime right in the middle of the street. During the interview on television, one of the taxi drivers rightly pointed out that this is often the fault of the passenger who stands at such places. Furthermore, the taxi driver stated that if he does not pick up the passenger (or does not drop them where they say), another taxi will so he is forced to do so if he wants to earn a living.

This is unfortunately so. We as the consumers of this public taxi service are often to blame as we do not consider the obligations or rules of the road. Often the passenger in a taxi will comment how badly other taxi drivers are stopping or hindering the flow of traffic, but when it is their turn to disembark, they do exactly what the previous passenger had done. It is thus with this in mind that there have been calls for traffic fines by given to passengers as well.

While we are discussing this issue, I would like to enquire why the City of Windhoek does not increase their writing of fines for jaywalkers. (Jaywalking is a term originating in the United States and widely used elsewhere that refers to illegal or reckless pedestrian crossing of a roadway. Examples include a pedestrian crossing between intersections without yielding to drivers and starting to cross a crosswalk at a signalized intersection (robot) without waiting for a green indication giving them permission to cross.)

About a year ago I read in the newspapers about the City of Windhoek Traffic Department writing out tickets, but have not seen any more news about this continuing, or even feedback on the numbers of jaywalkers, and how many have paid their sentences.

The main reason Namibia is becoming a land of accidents, violence against woman, baby dumping etc. is because we have become a nation of the lawless. In as far as comparing ourselves with countries throughout the world in terms of crime, we find that our higher crime rates also include a higher disregard for smaller transgressions. Thus our politicians and law enforcement agencies should have a policy of zero tolerance. Think of zero tolerance in the following terms:

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants.
Thus zero tolerance is the concept of giving carte blanche to the police for the inflexible repression of minor offenses.

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