Ivory Coast suspends all driving test staff as road deaths rise

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Cars stuck in traffic in Le Plateau district in Abidjan, in 2019.

The roads in Ivory Coast are actually safer than many countries in Africa

All driving test examiners have been suspended across Ivory Coast while the government “cleans up” the sector.

Fraud, corruption and a rise in road accidents are of concern, it says.

Police officers will take over and officiate driving tests for a period of three months from next week, announced Transport Minister Amadou Koné.

He said the country enjoys “better quality roads” after recent investment but said human error was behind many of the latest accidents.

“This is not an incrimination of the licence as such but there are a great number of matters on which we have decided to be uncompromising.”

Around 1,400 people die each year in road accidents in Ivory Coast. At least 38 people have been killed this month alone, including eight who burned to death after a car and a minibus collided on a main road 149 km (92 miles) from the biggest city Abidjan.

While Ivory Coast fares better than many other countries in Africa according to World Health Organization estimates, globally it is thought to have the 50th-worst death rate for road accidents out of 183 countries.

‘People here see such corruption as normal’

By Ebrin Noel Brou, BBC News, Abidjan

Like most people here, I experienced corruption in the process of obtaining my driving licence.

When you arrive at the test centre the examiner usually asks you: “Do you have good eyesight?” This essentially means that if you don’t want to waste time sitting the test you just give him 2,000 or 5,000 CFA francs ($4 or $9; £3 or £6) and you pass the visual test.

I personally responded: “Yes, I see well”. I did not pay anything. But another person I know was told by his examiner: “Don’t waste my time, just give what you have and leave.”

Bribery of this sort is hard to uncover because it’s kept between the examiner and the applicant.

Another common scenario is that the applicant says they can’t see road signs easily, so they bring along 2,000 CFA francs to hand to the examiner. There have been cases where applicants don’t take any tests at all but are still given a driving licence.

A corrupt examiner has never been convicted in Ivory Coast. Corruption has been around for long that people don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing – they think it’s normal.

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