New laws and penalties should be phased in gradually

Dear Editor,

It is mighty strange, confusing to say the least, about this protest at Tain. On the one hand are the taxi drivers who raised their fares, not because they are unduly harassed by the traffic cops and the courts, not because of the agony and frustrations experienced at the relevant government offices, not because their efforts to comply with the law are being frustrated by the unavailability of spare parts and bad roads, but simply because the penalties for bad driving and defective vehicles were increased.

On the other hand, what is more perplexing is that parents of the school children affected by the unjustified fare hike teamed up with the very drivers who are refusing to take their kids to school or are demanding full fares, thereby directly creating their increased financial hardships.

And on top of it all, the police who have been trying so hard to sell the spirit of respect, trust and cooperation based on service and protection, decided so irresponsibly to shoot tear gas among the people, without allowing enough time for their top brass and politicians to defuse the situation.

Have the police used tear gas in similar situations in other parts of the country?

There can be no excuse for what happened at Tain. The drivers acted unjustifiably without first allowing time to try to comply with the law. The parents acted ignorantly in joining with the wrong protesters. And the police acted too precipitately. That having been said, what have we learned from this whole fiasco?

First, before enforcing a new law, a reasonable time should be allowed for the enforcement. In other words the enforcement of the increased penalties should have been phased in over a period of a few months, allowing for education and warnings of intended prosecution by traffic cops instead of swooping down on drivers like vultures.

I would think that in the case of defective vehicles reasonable time should be given the owner/operator to fix same without penalty imposed. Laws are made for the benefit of the society and its enforcement is only as good as the people’s acceptance and willingness and ability to comply with them.

Secondly, the parents, despite their misguided action, do have a legitimate grouse.

Commuting of school children should never be left to the mercy of the hire car drivers. In view of the hardship factors, the government should step in and reintroduce the big buses under contract to private owners- as was done in the old days. Of course a regulated low fare would be charged schoolchildren.

Finally, our politicians should really make more of an effort to be on the scene before things go haywire and out of control. Surely, local officials would know of an intended protest action before it happens. It’s a small community where everybody knows everybody else.

Unless and until our officials and politicians show understanding, respect and real appreciation for the welfare and well being of our people, incidents like these will continue or will spin out of control with disastrous consequences to all.

Yours faithfully,

Shawn Mangru

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