EDITORIAL: New traffic rules harsh but necessary

The whole concept of traffic in Kigali this week got a new makeover. The first signs that the police was beginning to remove its kid gloves was during an interaction session between the police and the media last week.

It is a regular feature and it helps security organs to feel the pulse of the public and how they rate their services. During the meeting, the Government side explained the reasons behind some recent steps it had taken.

At the end of the pleasantries, the hammer came down. The Minister for Justice, whose office oversees the police, announced that sanctions against traffic violations were being toughened. Already the country has some of the stiffest fines in the region, so the threats are sure to make drivers sit up and listen.

While Rwanda’s road casualties are just a drop in the ocean compared to neighbouring countries, there are some traffic violations that should not be tolerated, especially by motorcycle taxi riders. During traffic jams, they ride on pedestrian pavements, including around Kigali Heights. Zebra crossings are not only foreign to them, but to many other drivers on the road.

The common excuse was that the markings were not visible. Now that excuse will be no more.

City authorities are busily swamping city streets in bright red and white crossings to replace the familiar black and white. As one person joked on social media; will they still be called zebra crossings with the new red livery?

But on a serious note, the ongoing works on our roads are welcome features. But next time city authorities embark on such a disruptive exercise, they should take into consideration the traffic jams they cause, especially during peak hours.

Otherwise, if the police warnings are to be taken seriously, the honeymoon is over for errant drivers.

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