Be Alert Today to Live Tomorrow

Ensuring a healthy living environment which includes safety on the road is a pre-requisite of governance, writes DOUGLAS RASBASH 


The last edition of The Botswana Gazette published an item titled “In the Aftermath of the Bus Tragedy,” and on the 4th April 2024 the nation joined together in an unprecedented display of solidarity to pay homage to all those who perished and to support all those who were grieving.


In this sequel, The Gazette proposes a myriad of recommendations that, if implemented, may prevent, or at least minimise the probability of such an accident reoccurring.


Road accidents are all avoidable. A complex compound of mistakes and oversights increase the risk and probability that they will occur. No single remedy will, by itself, solve the pandemic of road accidents that have smitten Botswana, and indeed the southern African region, and it will not be the first time that this issue has been discussed.


In submitting a few basic concepts, it is hoped that they will find their way into party manifestos and thence into legislation for the winning party. The recommendations are organised into the time-honoured ‘must do’, ‘should do’ and ‘could do’ subtitles.


Must Do:


Introduce a demerit system to hold drivers accountable for traffic violations, promoting safer driving habits and reducing the risk of accidents on the roads, and enforce compulsory car insurance to ensure that all vehicles on the road are financially covered in the event of accidents, reducing the burden on individuals and families affected by collisions.


Set regulations on the maximum age of imported vehicles to ensure that only roadworthy and safe vehicles are allowed on Botswana’s roads, reducing the risk of accidents due to vehicle malfunction, and link this to mandatory roadworthiness testing for all vehicles, including regular inspections to ensure that vehicles meet safety standards and are fit for driving on Botswana’s roads.


Implement standards for emergency medical services to ensure rapid response and effective medical care within the critical “golden hour” following road accidents, potentially saving lives and minimising long-term health complications.


Should Do:


Create a new national transport safety council dedicated to coordinating efforts, conducting research, and implementing strategies to enhance road safety across Botswana.


Establish a dedicated fund specifically allocated for road safety initiatives, ensuring sustainable funding for measures such as infrastructure improvements, education campaigns, and emergency services.


Allocate resources for the maintenance, repair and expansion of road infrastructure, including construction of sidewalks, bicycle lanes and pedestrian crossings to create safer environments for all road users to reduce the risk of accidents.


Strengthen scrutiny and verification processes for driver licensing and permits to reduce corruption and ensure that only qualified and competent individuals are allowed to operate vehicles on Botswana’s roads.


Establish clear lines of accountability within government agencies responsible for road safety, ensuring efficient coordination and swift action in addressing issues related to road infrastructure, enforcement, and emergency response.


Review and revise penalties for traffic violations to ensure they are proportionate to the severity of the offence, acting as an effective deterrent while also promoting fairness and consistency in enforcement.


Could Do:


Implement mechanisms to accurately account for the economic and social costs of road accidents, providing data-driven insights to inform policy decisions and prioritise interventions aimed at reducing accidents and their impacts.


Enhance data collection, analysis, and dissemination mechanisms to provide accurate and timely information on road safety trends, enabling evidence-based decision-making and targeted interventions.

Implement comprehensive safety education programmes targeting both drivers and pedestrians, focusing on road rules, defensive driving techniques, and the importance of wearing seatbelts and helmets to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries.


Provide specialised training for law enforcement officers on road safety enforcement techniques, accident investigation procedures, and handling of road traffic incidents, enhancing their capacity to enforce regulations effectively and respond to emergencies efficiently.


Foster partnerships between law enforcement agencies and local communities to promote community policing initiatives focused on road safety awareness, neighbourhood watch programmes, and collaborative efforts to address specific road safety challenges in different regions.


Utilise technology such as speed cameras, automated license plate recognition systems, and dashboard cameras to enhance law enforcement capabilities, improve evidence collection, and deter reckless driving behaviour on Botswana’s roads.


Integrate road safety education into the school curriculum at all levels, teaching children and young adults about safe road behaviour, pedestrian safety, and the importance of responsible decision-making when using roads.


Launch public awareness campaigns using various media channels to raise awareness about road safety issues, promote responsible driving behaviour, and encourage adoption of safer transportation practices among all road users.


Introduce incentives for safe driving practices, such as discounts on car insurance premiums for drivers with clean records, rewarding compliance with road safety regulations and encouraging a culture of responsible driving.


Foster collaboration with relevant stakeholders, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations, private sector partners, and community groups to leverage collective expertise and resources in advancing road safety initiatives and achieving sustainable results.

These manifesto statements outline a comprehensive strategy to address road safety challenges in Botswana, aiming to save lives, reduce injuries, and promote a culture of responsible driving and road use across the country.


Ensuring the health and welfare of society is the pre-requisite of any government in the world. Indeed, to live in a healthy environment is considered a human right. The UNGA even passed a resolution in July 2022 agreeing unanimously that this was indeed true.


The converse must also be true that failure to improve the wellness of society when remedies are well understood and available could be considered negligent of road providers and even litigable.


Just one successful case in Africa would set a massively important precedent while considerably advancing the cause of road safety. Until then, governments will remain ambivalent.


Following the national tragedy, we all hope that tipping point has been reached.