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The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority announced the other time that applicants for drivers’ licenses who cannot read and write would no longer be issued with driving licenses. Licenses held by illiterate individuals would not be renewed on expiry. That was the last time we heard of the policy.

 

Has the policy been implemented and its impact on road safety assessed? The DVLA and the police have not told us a darned thing by way of a public update. I suspect that there are still  thousands of non-literate maniacs behind wheels on our roads and highways who cannot recite the English alphabet, let alone read and comprehend our country’s highway code, any more than a rabbit can decipher equations in quantum mathematics written in hieroglyphics.

 

Yes sir, I would stake a wager that there are still many stark illiterate and barely literate motorists out on the streets who do not only constitute a grave risk to public safety but who are typically uncouth and extremely rude to other road users into the bargain. With these characters behind steering wheels it is a miracle that many people are able to go to work and return home in one piece every day.

 

The other day, a big truck negotiating entry into a main road at an intersection blocked off the view of a cab driver right behind the truck. The cabbie zoomed past the truck and entered the main road and straight into the path of fast moving vehicles travelling on the main road. The near disaster was darned scary.

 

The fright was visible on the faces of passengers in the lead vehicle from the other road but the cabbie, a bloke with a sweaty and angry countenance, did not appear to care one-and-a-half hoots that he nearly ended so many lives abruptly.

 

The National Road Safety Commission informed the public not long ago, that an Academy would soon be established to train drivers under a professional and vocational career development programme. That was the last time we heard of that initiative too. Who knows, we just might get lucky one of these days, to get a public update from the commission.

 

If there is another update the public needs to have, it is probably one related to phone SIM cards. Everyone is understandably scandalized by the brazenness with which phone SIM box  fraudsters have taken the republic by storm, but there is something else about SIM cards that should be of equal concern: The impact or lack thereof, of the registration of SIM cards on crime control as was initially anticipated.

 

It is probably significant that the registration of SIM cards in the country did not come without protests from various interest groups. A fair amount of fuss went up over a matter that most people thought was as simple as it was routine and commonsensical.

 

Telephone companies considered unlawful, attempts by the authorities to compel them to register SIM cards they sell to the public. Telecom companies and individuals purporting to be rights activist insisted that registering mobile phone SIM cards would amount to an invasion of citizens’ privacy.

 

Some even said it was meant to facilitate the government's tapping of phones of political opponents and the stealing of private information and data.

 

The security angle to SIM card registration lies in its multiple uses for purposes wholesome and unwholesome: Armed robbers use them to coordinate their activities, terrorists to detonate bombs from a distance, unauthorized spies for intelligence eavesdropping and  shady individuals to harass and threaten opponents.

 

The National Security establishment explained that it was merely seeking to have all SIM cards registered and other necessary equipment acquired by the companies, to enable them keep databases of their users and to log all calls made through their networks.

 

In cases where crimes have been facilitated by the use of cell phones, investigators could then easily rely on the telephone companies to help trace calls. Has this happened? Maybe, we shall get truly lucky one of these days to receive a security update.

 

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