Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly, 7 January 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on January 10, 2011

The robber state                    7 Jan Weekly

If you are not one of those motorists who have been fined lately for ‘speeding’ in what are the most unlikely places on our roads, you must be very lucky indeed. And it is not so much the fine that hurts. It is rather the feeling that the sole purpose of many speed limits and the associated carefully selected speed traps is to ambush otherwise law-abiding citizens and to rake in millions into state coffers.

When the authorities decided to install fixed speeding radars and cameras on the dual carriageway M1 at Pailles for Port Louis bound traffic and at Camp Chapelon for traffic going in the opposite direction, they decided to limit speed to 70 km/hr on these stretches of road. In the first two days, unsurprisingly, thousands of motorists received fines of Rs 2000 each! Hats off to Mauritius Inc for its sharp entrepreneurial sense! It certainly knows how to make a quick few million bucks by digging deeply and oppressively in the pockets of its own citizens. Two things are noteworthy in this experiment, for that’s what it turned out to be. Firstly, as expected, limiting speed to only 70 km/hr on such a vital stretch of the national dual carriageway caused snarling tailbacks and traffic jams at peak times. The road traffic management experts in the responsible government offices and the police force were compelled to eat humble pie and to increase the speed limit to 80 km/hr. Road safety was patently no longer the paramount consideration and expediency prevailed! The second ‘incident’ is worthy of an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for its sheer dilettantism and inanity. It’s too embarrassing to report, but nonetheless we’ll have a go at it, if you promise not to burst into guffaws – the signage indicating that a speed limit was in force on the Camp Chapelon stretch was placed after the speed camera!!! You might prefer to think that this was in fact intentional rather than to try to find the explanation in someone’s IQ.

If you persist in thinking that the reason the authorities dig in your pocket is because they have public safety at heart, here is what will make you change your mind: speed limitations are arbitrarily fixed at places defying all logic. On the St. Jean Link Road, which takes you from the exit of Quatre Bornes to join the dual carriage way M1, by the new MCB elliptical building, towards Réduit and Port Louis, there is a speed limit of…50 km/hr! This zone is completely uninhabited, unless the authorities’ concern is the safety of the souls laid to rest in the nearby St. Jean cemetery. Similarly, a few hundred yards further, the speed limit on the slipway into Ebène is 40 km/hr. Predictably, these are favourite spots for the police to ambush motorists for speeding, as they very well know that it is well nigh impossible in a modern motorcar to stay within these speed limits on these roads.

The authorities should rather look into the chaos and total lack of discipline on our roads. Speed alone does not cause accidents. What speed limits are there in countries like Germany where there is a very low accident rate?



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