Motorists have castigated plans by Government to hike fines for traffic offences saying this would promote corruption within the police force.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa was last week quoted during his announcement of the pro-fiscal National Budget for 2016 saying Government was set to review traffic fines as from January 1, 2016.
Minister Chinamasa said under the new fines, driving through red robots, overtaking against white solid lines, driving without a Drivers’ Licence and not having a foot brake will attract $100 fines from $20 previously.
The proposal has not been welcomed by motorists as they have described it to be exorbitant.
A survey carried out by The Herald in Harare yesterday revealed that none of the motorists welcomed the proposal.
“Traffic offenses are inevitable these days no matter how much one can try to drive carefully, this is due to the large volumes of traffic in the city,” said a motorist who identified himself as Mr Stuart Rungano.
“Our country’s roads have not been expanded to cater for large volumes of traffic and the potholes which sometimes makes driving a menace, have not been patched hence driving has become informal in most instances. Why not come up with more road networks or better still, come up with ways to decongest the city as the city centre is where most of these traffic offenses are committed?
Government should not just think of punishing drivers when the roads have not been made conducive for smooth flow of traffic. A traffic offence fine for $100 is far beyond the reach of many. This can only fuel up corruption amongst the drivers and the police force,” he said.
A Kuwadzana kombi driver who only identified himself as Jones said: “If the $100 fine is to be approved, I foresee our businesses as kombi operators dwindling. Police are always after stopping kombis at road blocks and hence it is going to be very difficult for us to do our work well.
“We ferry people for $0.50 and thinking of paying $100 as a fine, we wonder where it will come from,” he said.
A city taxi driver who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “We agree with the Minister that road traffic offenders should be punished so as to curb negligent driving but a fine of $100 will be too much.
“If the fine remains at $20, I can pay it officially but the moment it is $100, I would find other means of escaping arrest. In other words, adopting a $100 fine will encourage drivers to engage in corruption with the police officers,” he said.
Another motorist bemoaned the current economic environment saying the proposed fine was unaffordable.
“We are living in hard times, where will such an amount of money come from? At the same time we are not saying traffic offenders should be allowed to go scot free, but $100 for breaking road rules and regulations is very much unaffordable,” said Ms Petronella Gavaza.
“I hope this does not become the genesis of cat and mouse games with police as the traffic offenders would try to escape.”
In his statement, Minister Chinamasa said road traffic fine were meant to deter criminal behaviour and the current standard scale of fines which was last reviewed in 2009 had failed to promote safety and discipline on the roads.
He also said the fines were also generally lower than those in other countries in the region.