Feature writing: by Tibebu Taye (Senior Communications Officer)
At last, the hidden discovered, and the search went over with the investigators grasping the truth. Here is the full story as narrated by the writer.
There happened an incident that spurred the investigators mental energy to be exerted into question, their physical energy to be moved into action. It is an incident of car accident. The incident, lauder as it was, its clamor knocked with agitation at the sharp ears of the investigators of the Institution of the Ombudsman (EIO). Consequently, the team of the investigators set forth, as usual, armed with the investigative armaments፡ ‘what, who, when, why, how and where?’ to find out what had really happened.
In due case, having made an extensive investigative research, the team proved that there is weak service delivery conducted by the responsible bodies in relation to traffic accidents. The research would be expected to result in seeking a sustainable solution for the problem. Although the team realizes from experience the research would be tiresome and breathtaking, it was filled with boldness not to retreat for the sake of good service delivery, the realization of good governance, public interest and country’s sustainable development. By the way, what does traffic accident have in common with the duties and responsibilities of the Institution of the Ombudsman? Here goes the narration . . . .
Traffic accident is one of the many accidents that account for death, loss of property and physical disability. Studies show that major human and economic crises occur every now and then almost in all corners of the country with traffic accident as it is a high incidence. Inefficiency with driving ability, being unethical, a defect with any part of traffic, inconveniency of pathways, absence of giving priority to passengers on zebra roads and other related incidents are also shown to be reasons for traffic accidents to prevail.
The accident is incessantly increasing with its savaging attack. Many left home for ever as they went out, children missed their beloved and were left helpless, a mother, who had accompanied her child to school never got him/her back again; many went out for a purpose with full physical fitness only to return handicap; in general, the dream of many who went out to realize it went fantasy – because of traffic accident.
No matter how stronger or not, it has been resulted in social and economic crises: family has been exposed to live in a destitute; the consequences of which is the exacerbation of child trafficking, rapes, addiction, anti-human rights and maladministration activities. Nevertheless, in the efforts made to seek remedy for the problem, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Republic, House of People’s Representative has introduced Vehicle Insurance Against Third Party Risks Proclamation no. 559/2008 and which then amended in Proclamation no. 779/2013 so that the injured would get an emergency medication from both the government and private health centers, and to be paid damage. According to the proclamation, any health center, governmental and privately seized, without any precondition, has to give the service to which it must be re-funded. In which case, neither the center can force the injured to pay nor the later need pay. Although there is the provision, still there is implementation problem, however. How could the problem occur in the presence of the provision? Let us dig deep into the search together with the team of the investigators of the Institution of the Ombudsman.
The Federal Institution of the Ombudsman (EIO) is a parliamentary institution established as per the Article 55 (15) of the Constitution under the Proclamation no. 211/2000. Its objective is to see to bringing about good governance that is of high quality, efficient and transparent, and are based on the rule of law, by way of ensuring that citizens’ rights and benefits provided for by law are respected by organs of the executive. The Institution conducts a work of investigation by supervising and monitoring whether directives issued and decisions made by government authorities are against the constitutional rights of people and individuals, and seek for remedy.
Thus, it receives complaints against maladministration activities and investigates. On condition that there is a suspicion of maladministration activities, it is mandated under Article 24 (2) of its proclamation to find out by using own motion investigative mechanism. Consequently, it has been playing its role within the last working years by making own motion investigative researches on ill practices committed by government sectors and providing the results thereof together with their possible remedies to the sectors. Similarly, the EIO made an investigative research concerning weak service delivery concerning traffic accidents using own motion investigation mechanism and came up with finalized research study. The following investigative research, therefore, revolves around whether the provision is being implemented according to the law.
Based on available clues for suspicion, in order to find out the reasons behind the failures of the implementation of the provisions of the Vehicle Insurance against Third Party Risks Proclamation, the team of the investigators shot its primary focus at the health centers. Black Lion Hospital and Minilik II Hospital from Addis Ababa, Felege Hiwot Hospital and Kidan Miheret private higher clinic from Bahir Dar, Atena government Hospital and Christian private Hospital from Wolayta Sodo, Aderi government Hospital from Hawasa and Adama Hospital became the target of the research. Fortunately, the research seemed to go as smoothly as possible towards the planned target that there were of course implementation gaps of the provisions of the proclamation. That is, the health centers were proved not to have received the injured (not giving an emergency treatment) according to the proclamation; there was no clear re-funding procedure for the medical centers that accomplished their duty of implementing the law; the injured were not paid the damage according to the law. But what is the reason behind the activities undertaken against the proclamation?
Four major reasons can be cited. The first of which is that the medical centers force the injured to provide a down payment; and the second is that rather than insisting to fight against the activities breaching their rights, the later enter a contract. These are proved by the team of the investigators to be the result of the absence of sufficient awareness creation works by the Insurance Fund Administration Agency (IFAA). The IFAA is an agency accountable to the Ministry of Transportation (MoT) responsible for controlling and supervising the implementation of the proclamation. The third reason is related to the Agency in that it was not accomplishing its responsibility as effectively as possible because of shortage of budget allocation and inaccessibility. The last but not the least is that, especially government medical centers, even though they recognize they should provide the service without any precondition, have been proved not to give the emergency treatment according to the law since the annual budget allocation is only covered by service fee obtained from customers.
A pay for damage is the other benefit provided for the injured by the proclamation. In addition to the emergency medication, it is clearly indicated on Article 16 of the proclamation no. 779/2013 that the injured have the right to be paid about forty thousand birr (40,000 Eth Br.). Nevertheless, the team found out that the injured, because of either lack of awareness or thinking that the amount specified is not sufficient enough to cover the loss, prefer reconciling with the car owners rather than going to the Agency or the Insurance companies for the pay.
On conclusion, the team organized the summary of the study on the inconveniencies in relation to implementing the proclamation. In this regard, the study proved that there is no continuous awareness works on the part of the IFAA, and the sum of money paid to insurance companies by car owners is made use of only to the advantage of the companies instead of insuring the injured properly. Besides, it has been recognized that there is disintegration among the IFAA and the stakeholders: Health centers, Police Commission, Road’s Authority and Insurance Companies in the efforts made to work for the protection of the accident.
At last, the hidden discovered, and the search went over with the investigators grasping the truth. Following the study, the EIO called the IFAA along with its stakeholders at Global Hotel on 16th of February 2014 for discussion on the issues based on the research made and the results obtained so as to help take an integrated measure. During the discussion, every one of them identified the inconveniences as the responsibility of each of them. They, once again, promised to accomplish their duties as properly and lawfully as possible: the IFAA to expand its accessibility, the police and health centers to focus primarily on life saving, the Insurance Companies to be as fast and faithful as possible in paying for the damage and the Road’s Authority ponder over the safety of roads. Concluding this investigation at this point, the team of the investigators marched on for another search; and the writer of this piece for another story. Cheers . . . !
Investigative Research: The Team of Senior Investigators (Maladministration Investigation and Redressing Directorate)