Brian's Column: Buying a driving license doesn't buy you driver skills
Tuesday, 7 August 2012 , YOURS News
In this edition of Brian's Column, our regular feature from the ground in Africa, Mr Brian Mwebaze offers another thought provoking article about driver activities in Africa. Did you know that it's easy to buy a driver's license? No skills, no test. Brian explains the danger of not acquiring the appropriate skills before driving and how buying a driver's license for cash doesn't buy you driver skills putting you at even higher risk of a road crash.
There are many achievements being registered in Africa but one thing you wont be shocked to find out is the exponential increase in the number of driving schools! Yep! Young people are in the rush to graduate as drivers…well, that should be a warning to other potential Formular 1 superstars because Africa is coming!!!!!! Hello Alonso, Hamilton and Co. (Winks) But wait a minute:- Whereas this should be good news, you will now be shocked by the terms and conditions circumnavigating around the issue of getting a driving license especially-the young drivers.
I was watching this Television Channel on DSTV that was exposing the hassle that young drivers in South Africa pass through to get a driving permit. There are unlimited driving schools extorting hundreds of thousands of rands (South African Currency) from learner drivers who fear that they will not obtain a license unless they pay their instructors to bribe examiners. But you see, the instructors (who many times are Police men) themselves instill the ‘fear stereotype’ within their learners straight from the start.
In Africa, Brian writes that learner drivers can obtain a license with cash, not skills.
"No matter how well you can drive, you won't get your driver's license unless you pay what the instructors suggest," was the common refrain of recently licensed drivers being interviewed in the show.
So, it still sounded like as long as you have a strong relationship with your ATM Card, you definitely MUST get your driving license! All but one of the drivers interviewed confessed to paying bribes of R750 to R1 000 to ensure they got a licence.
"It's how it's done."
"It's the norm."
"If you don't (pay), you waste your money going for tests, again and again," they said.
In Zambia, despite widely publicised announcements of ongoing investigations into the irregular awarding of driver's licences, several driving schools continue to advertise, at competitive prices, quick and easy methods to get learner's and driver's licences. Here is one of such catch phrases used: "Guaranteed learner's licence and driver's licence,
Although buying licenses is not as open as this mock advert, Brian claims that if you can afford it, you can buy your driver's license.
In a Nigerian newspaper Nigerian Tribune had this to report about: "You need two black and white passport photos and negotiable but affordable once-off Naira payments (local currency)," said the operator. For cooperate institutions that need to train their drivers, such kind of driving schools have ‘made-life-easier) because such applicants don’t even need to sit an examination to obtain a learner's licence.
In Nigerian accent, the attendant says, "Tell your friend to bring me 5000 Naira and I will get him a learner's licence. I can do that next week," "Oh no, he doesn't have to write the test. I just give it to him when he gives me the money." It's that easy!
No matter how skilled you think you are, aquiring the right driving skills through accredited driver training is imperative for road safety.
Now, putting jokes a side, we all know that driving is a skill! Even Lionel Messi (Soccer Star), Roger Federer (Tennis Star), Michael Jordan (Basketball Legend) who did a lot of practice for their own sports, even they needed to learn how to drive. While it might take long for many young drivers in getting their driving licenses, hurrying the cause through paying unnecessarily will actually be like buying a ticket to hell! Driving competency is needed for young drivers especially considering that we are the high risk group. This, however can only be achieved by enrolling and being examined and certified by credible and experienced driving schools and instructors.
If we care about our youth, then we need appropriate enforcement to ensure new drivers learn the skills they need for the road.
So as you can see, the picture on the ground is somewhat grave. Not only does Africa suffer from poor infrastructure, we are being flooded with young inexperienced drivers who lack even the basic road skills because they have been enabled to 'buy' their license. So what do we need here? We need serious review of the way new drivers obtain their license, a flushing out of corruption and if we actually care about our youth and their futures, ensure they have the skills they need before they are giving a license to the road.