An old road transport and traffic control regulation, which could suspend drivers for as long as two and half years, is now to be implemented five years too late.
The task of collecting driver’s licence information, which includes all licences registered by regional states to the central database, was the reason behind the delay in implementing the regulation which was endorsed in 2011, Yergalem Tilahun, promotion & public relations officer at the Federal Transport Authority explained. Even now as the Authority prepares for implementation, it is still working on the database.
Forced to implement the suspension of driver’s licences because of the increasing rate of traffic accidents as well as the growing inefficiency in implementing fines, the Authority must now take action, Yergalem added.
Measures are set in the Regulation number 208/2011 of Road Transport & Traffic Control based on the category of offences and number of violations committed at different times. Offenses committed for the first time, attract a fine of 80 Br to 180 Br depending on the category of the offenses. Up to 13 offenses are tolerated with a maximum fine of 240 Br, beyond which, from 14 to 16 offenses, the driver’s licence should be suspended for six months and he/she sent for rehabilitation training.
Suspension time increases to one year when 17 to 19 offenses have been committed. The fate of drivers who commit more than 20 offenses, is revocation of his/her licence, and once revoked the driver can get a new licence only after two years.
Some of the offenses that will be counted as a record for the suspension include parking vehicle on entry or exit gates, not giving priority to pedestrians, driving beyond speed limits, driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating drugs, and overloading passenger vehicles.
Fines will also be paid through the software developers, Lehulu Kifiya Technologies Plc. Banchialem Luel, Information Technology head at the Authority declined to talk about the details of the contract with Lehulu Kifiya. The new arrangement means that drivers no longer need to go to transport bureaus but can pay their fines at the same place as they pay utility bills.
The National Data Centre, which is under testing, keeps record of all offenses at country level and is accessible by the federal authority as well as by regional bureaus. A local firm, Cuspur Computing Plc, developed the software for the national data centre at the cost of 1.2 million Br, which is fully financed from the budget of the Authority.
The trend in the previous recording system was that a driver who committed an offense in a certain regional city could commit another offense in another place without his previous record being known, with each offense recorded as a first. Now, wherever the driver commits an offense his/her previous offense histories are counted due to the centralised database, Banchialem said, adding that this will deter drivers from committing repeated offenses.
For the time being, implementation of the regulation will start only in Addis Abeba and will later expand to areas within a 300km radius and then throughout the country. Counting the number of offenses committed per driver will commence after the date of implementation and previous records will not be considered. Once testing is over, Yirgalem said, there will be sensitisation for drivers.
Implementation of the suspension will affects taxis and other public transportation vehicles more than others, because of their vulnerability to offences and because of corrupt traffic enforcement practices, Yebeltal Abate, chairman of Nisir Taxi Association commented. Suspending drivers, particularly of taxis, could lead to more unemployment, he argued.