Columnists

Of signs and speed cameras

Torn Apart: BOYD PHIRI
IT SEEMS everything is being done by Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to bring sanity on the road.
From installing speed cameras on selected roads to having a pass-out parade of their own officers at Lilayi Police Training College.
No-one in the hood expected RTSA to do so much within a short time this year, especially that the past two years the agency had a tough time explaining why it was taking long to issue drivers’ licences.
Apparently, the only thing RTSA is taking long to do now is installing speed camera signage on some roads to warn motorists about the cameras.
Don’t ask me why most motorists never bothered to ask for road signs to warn them about the famous speed traps managed by traffic police officers.
But when the chips are down in the hood, it does not matter when the boma iyanganepo (government should do something) outcry comes into play.
The fear of permanent speed cameras on the roads among motorists is real as evidenced by the demand for warning signs.
For most drivers in the hood, driving is all about the adrenaline rush of speed. Commuters are used to begging minibus drivers to reduce speed because they have no power to warn them.
“Chefyankoni speed ba driver, tapapata,” is a common cry by most passengers, which literally means “Please, driver, reduce speed.”
I guess with the public outcry over lack of speed cameras signage on selected roads, commuters would also start demanding for signs to warn them about buses whose drivers like overspeeding.
It would be interesting to read signs such as ‘Do not get on this bus, the driver likes overspeeding,’ or one saying ‘The driver of this bus drinks tujilijili (illicit spirits) while driving.’
Certainly, everyone in the hood would be talking about signs in every aspect of their lives, thanks to the new catchword ‘signage’.
Road signage is important, just like we are used to reading signs such as ‘Men at Work’ even when it is women sweeping the streets.
I bet the four traffic police officers who were caught pants down with cash obtained in bribes at a roadblock recently would have loved Mungwi Road to have a sign warning them about the coming of Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo, who busted them.
A road sign like ‘Bowman Lusambo expected on this road’ would make them avoid mounting a roadblock on Mungwi Road.
However, the buzz around the issue of signage in the hood got me thinking, what if we had signs saying ‘Slow down, sex workers ahead’, warning motorists using certain roads at night?
What if we had signs on some people’s foreheads saying ‘Do not marry this person, problems ahead?’
What if bars had signs reading “Beware of ba lwanda (freeloaders) here?” Certainly, most patrons would be happy to see such warnings.
What if there were signs saying ‘Slow down, kachasu drinkers crossing?’
Obviously, this would contribute to reducing road accidents in townships where the local spirit kachasu, whose alcohol content is not exactly known, is distilled.
In case you didn’t know, most of the hit and run victims in the hood are kachasu drinkers.
Anyway, what if we had road signs reading ‘Keep a cool head, this road is prone to road rage?’
Needless to say, this reminds me of something about road rage. Perhaps, we need cameras, too, to capture motorists inclined to road rage. Well, I am not sure about how much more RTSA speed cameras can do.
However, the issue of signage has got people talking and the onus is on relevant authorities to make sure that motorists are warned about speed cameras, if not warning them to slow down because there are sex workers ahead at night.
bjboydphiri@yahoo.com.

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