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As the Addis Ababa Traffic Police office tries to enact the Drivers Competency Certification Proclamation, the latest traffic proclamation issued by the council of Ministers a year ago, residents of the city are grumbling about serious corruption.
Traffic accidents remained among the causes of social and economic chaos, giving the country the highest rate of traffic fatalities per vehicle in the world. Poorly maintained, inadequately marked and poorly lit roads, excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of adherence to basic safety standards, among others, are the roots of traffic accidents according to reports by different organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO). Many drivers are unlicensed and those licensed lack basic driver training.
In a bid to reduce the toll of traffic accidents, the Addis Ababa Transport Authority is taking several measures.
Recently it slammed the doors of 48 driving license schools after conducting evaluations, allowing only ten to continue operating.
Four months ago, the authority started enforcing the Driving Competency Certificate Proclamation issued recently. This proclamation penalizes drivers without a license, as well as the owners of the vehicles.
According to Assefa Mezgebu (Chief Sergeant), drivers who are caught without a license are subject to a penalty of 5,000 birr, while the owners of the vehicle pay are fined 3,000 birr.
The proclamation was initially used applied by the Oromia Transport Authority. Addis Ababa Bureau became the second tohas later started using use the proclamation.
Many traffic police, however, are allegedly using the enactment of the proclamation for their own profit, receiving bribes from drivers and owners rather than enforcing it.
Even motorbike traffic police, who were formerly believed to not engage in such practices, are getting into the game as the money being offered has grown, according to sources.
Assefa said that the Addis Ababa Traffic Police Bureau is aware of such rumors. “We informally hear these claims. But no concrete and evident allegations have been brought to the bureau,” he said. If people can file apparent clear evidence, the bureau shall takes legal and administrative measures.
“Anyone who has been asked for money by a traffic police can report to the nearby police station,” he said, noting that . Assefa said that both receiving and extending a bribe, however, is illegal.
Traffic accidents claimed the lives of 332 people in 2011. During the same period, 1,735 people were injured in traffic accidents. In addition, traffic accidents caused 47.7 million birr of damaged.