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Illegal driving licence and road mishaps

Where a fire is not, there you won’t find smoke.

We are talking about alleged illegal issuance of driving licences. Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has begun investigating the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) and the traffic division of the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP).

Although it will be difficult to prove the case, there is usually some truth in the rumours. The burden of proof falls on the ACC and it must do all in its capacity to unveil the dark soul of corruption that could already be firmly established in the system.

In what could be just the tip of the iceberg but a vital reason for the ACC to launch an investigation, RBP recently found three of its constables having taken Nu 6,000, Nu 11,000, and Nu 21,000 from individuals to facilitate procurement of driving licences illegally. The constables involved were later suspended.

Further to that, while investigating the case, ACC has also found a racket where many professional driving (PD) licences were issued based on fake certificates. So there really is a problem deeply embedded in the system. When the system is beginning to show the signs of rot, that the investigation could demoralise the department and its staff should be the least of our concerns. Rather, the focus should be on cleaning and improving the system.

Today, the problems related to driving and road discipline has reached unprecedented height. Often one can come across an individual who is yet to come of driving age sitting behind the wheel. According to RSTA’s major traffic offence violations for December 2018, no driving licence on the spot and unlicensed driving accounted for 122 and 81 respectively. These are, however, only the cases that were intercepted and recorded. Many could have had the opportunity to drive on scot-free. Around 1,139 road crashes were recorded between 2017 and 2018, which contributed to 110 deaths and 557 injuries.

These are staggering numbers.

Weak monitoring, which may be linked to complacency from the enforcing authorities, is at the core of the problem. There is today an urgent need to tighten the system. We may have rules and regulations galore, but what we need is a foolproof system. Otherwise, we will continue to witness increased road mishaps and unnecessary deaths on our roads.

ACC should succeed in laying the case with clear evidence on the system’s very doorstep.

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