ZAMBIA is losing out financially through the rampant misuse of Government vehicles mostly done by some misguided elements in the civil service who do not seem to have any regard for the existing guidelines on usage of Government property.
Most civil servants are still bewildered with the previous mentality of abusing public resources and property found at their disposal by virtue of their positions in the public service.
And this rather mediocre culture was proving to be a drain on tax payers' money as well as Government's initiatives to foster development. It has become a common sight to ride in a Government vehicle where the driver even charges a fee like you were in the comfort of a public transport operated vehicle when in fact not.
With poor salaries, most civil servants who are allowed to drive Government vehicles take advantage each time they are traversing inter-towns and cities and villages during the course of duty because then they can steal a moment and make a fortune out of State property.
On December 26, 2012 this author witnessed one such event. The venue was at Nkana East traffic lights at slightly after 17 hours when most people are knocking off heading home.
Two people aboard a white Toyota Land Cruiser registration number GRZ 650 BR whose engine sounded almost mechanically ravaged pulled up.
This writer paid KR10 for a ride from Kitwe to Ndola. The MLSS abbreviation in bold are written near both rear sides of the vehicle, while Factories Department is inscribed on the sides of the doors.
The rear door rattled as the vehicle pulled down. The passenger of the Government vehicle had taken a little more of alcohol so was his colleague behind the wheel.
You cannot afford to miss a drunken man sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle driving at more than 110kms/hr especially if he continues to lurch in keeping his lane.
From the hiking point after Nkana East traffic lights, the vehicle stopped and the stout looking man in a deep voice wearing a light brown suit disembarked and shouted to people waving down vehicles.
"Ndola! Ndola!" he beamed as he staggered out of the light truck. Then, within a split second, four people jumped into the vehicle and occupied the back seat before four others snaked in the vehicle to fill up the middle seat after almost a near tussle.
The duo carefully examines the new passengers in the vehicle. The driver, with a long face and wearing spectacles, says almost in a giggling tone: "Two more people can seat at the back and here," pointing at the middle seat which only accommodates three people.
The passengers on that seat retort with responsibility: "We are bulky and there is no space for another person. You cannot pack us like rats!"one passenger shouted.
The vehicle is expected to carry eight passengers alongside the driver but instead was overwhelmed with 10 people on board despite its compromising mechanical chassis.
The two hesitate. They look at each other. Then the driver intones, in a resigned stance: "You people eat a lot of Nshima but we normally carry four people on this seat," he charged.
The GRZ vehicle was already over-loaded with two heavily built passengers.
As the vehicle took off, loud music occupied the silence that had earlier surrounded the reaction to the request for more people to get on board.
As we drew closer to the Copperbelt Energy Corporation 's Maposa Sub-station.