Cameras a step in right direction, but public participation will entrench trust

Tuesday November 23 2021
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Portable traffic camera. PHOTO | SEARCH


Last week, traffic cameras and fines dominated the news following an uproar about reduction in speed limits in some parts of the city.

Rwanda National Police (RNP) which is the lead agency in enforcing the traffic laws was put on the spot to explain why it had reduced the speed limits.

There was outrage over the fact that some cameras are hidden while some claimed to be wrongly fined.

In its defence, RNP was at pains to explain that it is not after collecting money to meet its budget targets, instead it is enforcing traffic laws to ensure road safety. It made reference to the law, and made it clear that it was only enforcing traffic laws.

It also reassured road users that if anybody is wrongly fined, RNP would look into the issue and verify the claims. If indeed they were wrongly fine, the fine would be waived, but the damage would have been done and the victim subject to psychological torture during the waiting period.

This indeed brought importance of public participation to create awareness among road users and public at large to ensure smooth implementation.


Yet for many, these explanations came a bit too late.

Many were not aware of the details of the traffic laws. This calls for more public awareness campaigns as soon as the laws come into force. This is partly because a legal system seeks to provide law and order.

 Essentially, it is a system of logic imposed upon a society to manage the human interactions within it.

It attempts to offer reliability and certainty, effective structures to administer functions, reasonably foreseeable outcomes, remedies to disputes and is primarily designed to reflect and impose the will of the people or the society it governs.

Involving the public before implement-ion also guarantee the support and ownership by the public to promote trust between law enforcers and the governed.

It is therefore necessarily "plastic" or fluid, in that it must evolve as the views of the society it governs evolves, and should ideally reflect current community standards, or at least some agreed manifestation of such.

It is therefore reassuring to hear that some traffic laws are currently under review as the traffic laws put in place almost 20 years ago are becoming irrelevant.

For many, the government's heavy investment in improving the road infrastructure should go hand in hand with the amendment of the relevant traffic laws.

Conversely, given that traffic accidents are very costly; lives lost are irreplaceable. Every effort must be directed towards reducing the number of accidents that occur.

Speeding is a significant problem that contributes to severe injuries or fatality. If every motorist followed the speed limit while wearing their seatbelt, thousands of lives could be saved and hundreds of thousands of injuries could be prevented.

Reducing the speed of traffic requires strict law enforcement to alter the motorist’s behaviour to drive at the speed limit.