I’ve been driving late to my house these past few days, and the darkness in the streets of Addis made me think about the numerous car accidents we see every day in the city. No wonder you see so many deadly accidents on the ring roads, in particular. Yes, the speed limit on these roads goes as high as 80 km/hour, but the speed limit is in my opinion the least to be blamed for the accidents. Literally speaking, driving after dark on ring roads is like driving into a big and dark gaping hole with no end in sight. If you miss your line even slightly, your chance of either getting hit by a speeding car or bumping onto the invisible block lining the ring road is pretty high. You have to gather all your energy to focus on the road ahead, leaning the farthest possible towards the front window and on your steering wheel and use the high beam light on your car to see the farthest possible in the pitch dark road ahead. It is simply too stressful! Add to the situation drunken and careless drivingplus driving at the maximum speed possible, and you have your explanation for the deadly accidents you witness on early mornings on ring roads.
We hear on the media that it is the reckless driving, the drunken driving, and speeding that are responsible for deadly accidents. But much is not mentioned about the street lamps that stand idly with no light whatsoever and the gaping potholes on the roads which, by the way, you need to carefully watch for if you do not want to find yourself crashed by a passing car when trying to suddenly avoid them. The government is not wondering much about its own role in this whole mess of accidents. And how about the irresponsible behavior of our fellow traffic policemen? I once was asked by a traffic policeman to try to negotiate my situation with the guy who hit my car so that he can avoid the supposedly cumbersome task of taking pictures of the scene and preparing an investigation report of the accident.
I brought up the case of traffic accidents to make my point that, unless there is a responsible government out there that conducts a self-assessment to investigate its role in whatever dysfunction we see in our systems and tries to address it first before blaming and seeking solution from the people, real change cannot happen. Be it our tax system, our educational system, our economy in general, or our political system, the root source of the problem is the government itself. One cannot blame the people for not paying taxes if there is no responsible and capable government agency that has put in place and effective, efficient and functioning tax system that is free of corruption and unnecessary bureaucracies. One cannot blame the youth for being rebellious and a threat to the safety and security of citizens if there is no responsible and capable government agency that is able to able to put in place a system that nurtures the entrepreneurial endeavors of the youth through incentives, fairness, capacity building and a functioning legal system.
Drafting laws, regulations, procedures, policies, rule, you name it, without a responsible and capable party to implement them is like running on the treadmill in the gym where your walk but are going nowhere. Just as much as the child is responsible for his own growth and development, the parents are to be held to be even more responsible. We the people and the government have each our own responsibilities in bringing the change we would like to see happening. But real and sustainable change will only come when the government decides to change itself!