To The Minister of Public Infrastructure, The Hon Nandcoomar Bodha

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When it comes to road accidents, media coverage suggests Mauritius is yet again number one in Africa if not the world – although the death rate here is well below the international average. There wasn’t the same problem in ancient times as land travel was on donkey or horseback, or on foot, which was perhaps just as well. The moment Greeks took part in chariot racing, a popular sport, they drove like idiots and drivers and horses often suffered serious injuries and even death. The dangers involved only heightened the excitement. Perhaps that’s what inspires modern-day motoring die-hards.

As the Boss says, drastic measures may be necessary, Mount Olympos recently held a symposium to see if we could come up with some bright ideas, fuelled by vast amounts of wine provided by Dionysos. After all, we didn’t have to drive anywhere afterwards. It was great fun as some ideas were quite outrageous. As always, Aristotle was a useful source of inspiration: by their nature, men generally tend to be swayed by fear rather than reverence and to refrain from evil because of the threat of punishment rather than because evil is vile.

The best way to terrify people is to arrest them when they drive – or walk – dangerously, but the police are no better at catching offenders than dog catchers at trapping strays. To motivate them and check for drug driving, all suspects could be stripped naked. What larks!

Officers could also drive around in unmarked cars or motorcycles, instead of having lights and sirens announcing their imminence half an hour before they arrive on the scene. It’s not as if they’re ice-cream sellers. The same goes for speed cameras. People slow down for a few hundred yards and then roar off again. As far as prevention goes, the impact is limited – even if it rakes in thousands of drachmas as drivers are too busy on their mobiles to notice signs.

Dashcams, even on motorbikes, might make officers’ lives easier, providing they – both the officers and the cameras – work. For now, even when the police see bad driving, they find it too onerous to make an arrest. On-the-spot fines would be much easier administratively – if only the Force could trust its own officers. Meanwhile, it would help if CCTV cameras actually worked effectively, not least during the hours of darkness, and were regularly monitored instead of being glanced at – and often proving useless – if an incident occurs. The whole police set-up is highly unsatisfactory but the chance of serious reform is even less likely than Ram so madam becoming PM.

A simple measure would be to inconvenience offenders by making them pay their fines in person but our best idea came from Hephaistos, who proposed placing tacks all along continuous white lines. Mind you, given the chaos that would produce, it might be best to complete the Metro first. That project makes my travelling by chariot through the air look a bit outmoded but, while I like poetic licence, obtaining a driving licence to use the roads would be beyond me. There’s now so much good governance here, even MPs might baulk at the idea of backing an ancient spirit, particularly as I could only pay in ambrosia.

Politicos don’t understand that it is integrity and daring to do what’s necessary that wins the respect of the silent majority, not populism, so the obvious need for fitness checks for two-wheelers looks doomed. It’s rather sad as, if they had to produce their licences at the same time, such a measure could take thousands of motorcycles off the roads…

Yours sincerely,

Epi PHRON

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