Night drive ban rekindles roadside marriages

By Augustine Phiri

A little boy wearing school uniform gets on a bus and sits right behind the driver and repeatedly keeps saying, “If my mum was a cow and my dad was a bull, I would be a little calf. “

“If my mum was a hen and my dad was a cockerel, I would be a little chick. If my mum was a deer and my dad was a buck, I would be a little deer.”

“If my mum was a duck and my dad was a goose, I would be a duckling.”

Annoyed about the recitations, the driver stops the bus and turns to the boy saying, “What if your mum was a drunk and your father was a thief?”

The boy responds, “Then I would be a bus driver.”

The Government has announced that no public service vehicles whether passenger or goods will be allowed to operate between 21:00 and 05:00hours with effect from 27 November 2016.

Transport and communications Minister Brian Mushimba announced during a news briefing in Lusaka recently.

According to Mr Mushimba the ban on night movement of buses especially, aims to curb road traffic accidents, 55 percent happening at night and 45 percent during the day.

The ban falls under Statutory Instrument (SI) number 76 of 2016.

It is not my intention to determine the merits and demerits of this ban but you may wish to know that Zambia is not alone in this situation.

Gabon took a similar decision recently following a grisly accident that occurred at night killing 18 people.

The accident involved a minibus and a lorry on the highway linking the capital Libreville with the interior of the country which is said to be often heavily congested.

In Tanzania a recent study says major reasons for banning passenger buses from travelling at night imposed fifteen (15) years ago are still valid as accidents that claim a big number of fatalities occurred at night.

The research was conducted by the College of Engineering Technology of the University of Dar es Salaam and says driving at night involved more risks of sustaining injuries or getting killed in a traffic accident du to limited vision at night by drivers.

The research estimates that 30 per cent of road accidents that happen at night constitute half of all fatalities on the road in this East African country.

Another East African country of Kenya imposed a similar ban in 2014 on public transport vehicles in an attempt to curb the high number of accidents on the country’s roads.

But the ban was overturned after a successful challenge in the courts of law on grounds that it was unconstitutional to restrict people’s movement.

Now, you Zambian bus owners, I should not hear anything that you have petitioned the government in the high court or indeed in the Constitutional Court with a view to emulating your Kenyan counterparts.

For, if you do, I will definitely sue you for copy right violation and plagiarising this piece of intellectual creation, do not say I did not warn you.

I have said it before that we must be careful about what we factor in the constitution; you see the Kenyans have shot themselves in the foot over the fate of their own making.

This human rights thing is going too far; we now cannot slap our own children as a disciplinary measure for fear of being dragged to the police station by the very children for violating their rights to live at peace at all times without being subjected to pain by any one – parents included.

Now, I hear some people are campaigning for conjugal rights of correctional inmates to have a few hours of ‘privacy’ with their spouses but under the glare of hidden CCTV cameras for at least once a week, my foot.

Should this happen, correctional officers formerly called prison warders, should b charged a fee for watching explicit movies free of charge.

Never mind and back to our topic, there seems to be pockets of resistance to heed the night ban by some bus owners.

This is understandable because some of them were either too young or were not born during the era of the ‘Sacha’ (pigeon for ‘Thatcher’) and United Bus Company of Zambia (UBZ).

You see, in these days long distance buses were not allowed to move at night and as such, over night stops were establishing at selected locations.

For instance, Sinda Misale, Petauke, Nyimba and the chilly Katete, were the designated night stop bus stations on the Lusaka – Chipata route.

But the drivers chose where to pull over for the night and this was based on various hidn agendas.

It was common for a driver to stop the bus in the middle of nowhere by feigning a break down only to see him saunter towards a nearby bar or go and spend the night in the house of a village concubine.

Some adventurous passengers joined in too and in some instances woke up late in the morning when their buses had long gone.

I, therefore, foresee these incidents returning when the night drive ban for long distance buses come into effect at the end of this month.

Already, reports say enterprising ladies of the night are preparing to set up command posts on long distance routes for the purpose of anyone’s guess.

Indeed, let us do something and let God save us from fatal road traffic accidents.