Ban on cars will not solve problem

Editorial, Normal

SENIOR Insp Michael Kanguma, officer-in-charge of NCD traffic, is blaming reconditioned cars for road accidents on Port Moresby roads.
He proposes a ban on importing of cars via internet.
He makes this bold statement without offering a shred of evidence in support.
It is illogical to suggest that because roads are getting smaller, and too many cars are on the road, importation of reconditioned cars ought to be barred.
He is proposing indirectly that Papua New Guineans ought to buy more expensive brand new cars instead of the cheap reconditioned cars they presently import.
It is hardly a statement that the ordinary Papua New Guinean is likely to support.
If the police have an inkling that reconditioned cars are failing mechanically, resulting in increased road accidents, then its members must prove that by providing the number of instances this has happened.
It must establish just what is failing.
There is a case to be made that every car imported directly from Japan robs the locally-based motor car dealer of sales.
The local company pays taxes to the government and employs Papua New Guineans so it makes sense for Papua New Guineans to buy cars
here and keep the money onshore.
Yet, it is also a fact that most cars imported via the internet are far cheaper, which is the reason people choose to buy cars in the first place.
But, this argument is not for the police.
There is also a case to be made that many reconditioned cars might not be environmentally friendly – which is probably the reason why they have been condemned to the reconditioned yards in the first place in their country of origin.
We do not want to pollute our clean air with cars spewing so much exhaust but, again, that is not the argument that is pursued by the police.
If traffic congestion is a concern, then police should not be looking at stopping importation of reconditioned cars as an answer. They should be looking at managing what is already on the roads.
The warning issued by land transport manager of enforcement operations, Herman Wakia, to all public motor vehicle and taxi operators to renew their licences well ahead of expiry date, is a step in the right direction.
Wakia and Kanguma ought to get together and ensure all motor vehicles that are not in tip-top condition ought to be impounded and taken off the road.
If that were done in Port Moresby, almost a third or half of the vehicles on Port Moresby roads would be taken off. It is faulty vehicles that are causing accidents.
Additionally, there ought to be stringent policing of drivers.
Far more accidents are caused by drivers who are not properly trained on traffic rules and on how to control vehicles properly.
Many more fatal accidents are caused by drunken drivers.
If licences could be taken off drivers, who cause accidents, and drivers given a number of years before they can ever drive again, then the dangerous drivers would be taken off the road for a long time.
Setting speed limits and enforcing them, as well as testing for alcohol content in the blood of drivers by using breathalysers, would be another way of minimising accidents.
The police, or Transport Department, could set up toll-free 24/7 hot lines where the public or other drivers can report on careless and reckless drivers on the road. That, too, regulates road hogs who have no care or respect for other users of the road.
The point is that there are many more reasons for traffic accidents that are obvious and manageable.
Let us not pinpoint a source of importation of cars as the chief cause.
This matter is far too serious to be treated with a kneejerk reaction with one ill-thought out statement.
It requires consultation of all stakeholders from police and transportation to the NCD, planning, environment and conservation, motor car dealers and PMV and taxi owners among others.
We have been pointing out, in this space, on the explosion of cars on city roads and what that would mean for the city.
It requires a whole of government and society approach, not just one institution.
We appreciate what Snr Insp Kanguma is trying to expres, which is that there is a problem with traffic congestion and that there are too many accidents.
But, he is going about this the wrong way by pinpointing the cause of these problems on one source – importation of cars.