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Stop the preaching

I remember growing up that putting on your car seat belt while driving was considered to be a sign of arrogance. I never really understood why people had that mentality. There this word in Amharic ‘Akabaj’ that loosely translates as ‘exaggerators’ that is used to describe those very few who put on their seat belts while commuting. It means you are exaggerating the accident that you might be facing if you drive unbuckled-up. People tend to believe that if you have never faced an accident after driving for so many years, your likelihood of one day facing a serious accident is almost none. So, why buckle-up? There also used to be a tendency to believe that people who buckle-up while driving are those who want to be seen as cool or stylish. I am not so sure how buckling-up makes you look cool. But anyway, since very recently, very few drivers buckled-up when driving. Now, you will not see anyone driving without the seat belt on. Why? The answer is simple. And that is because traffic polices have made it their goal to enforce the law that anyone who is driving should buckle-up. Otherwise, a penalty will follow. I don’t think it is so much about the fear of being a victim of fatal accident that drives people to put their seat belts on but rather the fear of getting a traffic penalty ticket.

I always wondered why the law on seat belts was not enforced in the same way for the passenger seat next to the driver’s. Both individuals are exposed to fatal accidents. It may be argued that enforcing seat belts for the driver assures not only the safety of the driver himself/herself but also those of the remaining passengers. At the end of the day, only the driver is able to control the car. But still, why leave out the front passenger? This week, you may have noticed that every front passenger is buckled-up. For some reason, witnessing this gives me a pleasure. I think it is the idea that people are respecting the law that gives me a pleasure. This morning I heard on Sheger FM an advertisement about the need for the front passenger to buckle-up while commuting. The advertisement tries to give listeners a picture of the fatality of accidents the front passenger is likely to face if commuting without the seat-belt on. Such advertisements might help, although I am not sure they will in the context of our country. I’m sure most of us witness every day at least a couple of cars crashed in road accidents. The sight of these accidents have not helped us to be motivated enough to buckle-up. So how can few seconds’ advertisements do the job? What we Ethiopians need is somebody who is committed to enforcing the law. Just make everything an obligation and penalize people if the obligations are not respected. Then you get want you want. That’s it! No need for preaching!

I think the same thing applies for the chaos we are continuously hearing about in universities around the country. As far as I remember, I do not think there have been times universities have become a place of turmoil for reasons that are so difficult to discern clearly. Yes, universities have been a place where political struggles started and grew. But the reasons behind those struggles were known. We knew what the students were fighting for. But now, everyone is in the dark as to why universities are unable to maintain law and order. We do not know why students are dying. But to stick to my point, I only see one way to put an end to this chaos. And that is to make sure that officials in charge of ensuring law and order do their jobs properly! Why aren’t we hearing about students dying in Addis Ababa University? I bet it’s because there are bodies making sure that the security situation up there is tight and well controlled! So, why not do the same elsewhere? Just stop the preaching on peace and unity!

Contributed by Tsion Taye
Contributed by Tsion Taye