The holiday season in Dili brings with it a mixture of both holiday cheer and reckless behavior that endangers both perpetrators and the public at large. Fundasaun Mahein asserts that the largest public danger during this holiday season is alcohol abuse and drunk driving. The roads were particularly hazardous this Christmas Eve and Christmas, with many reckless drivers endangering both themselves and other motorists by speeding and driving erratically on the main roads of Dili, sometimes while wearing no helmet. The majority of these drivers are young Timorese, and it is only logical to assume that their irresponsible driving is a product of intoxication. Intoxicated youth were also seen asking pedestrians on Colmera road for money on Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Timorese youth engaging in this behavior show no respect for authority, and exhibit a blatant disregard for the rule of law and for the safety of those around them. Even more troublesome is the fact that this attitude seems to be prevalent in not only Dili but in the districts as well, where the jails are filled to capacity during the holiday season with young Timorese.
This spike in public intoxication and drunk driving has occurred despite an increase in police patrols and checkpoint stops.
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This effort appears to have done little to dissuade Timorese from engaging in unlawful behavior, and highlights the need for further action by the police force to put more officers on duty and enforce restrictions more strictly to make roads safe for travelers.
More must also be done to tackle this problem from a preventative framework to encourage youth to engage in responsible drinking habits and behaviors. Fundasaun Mahein urges the government and relevant institutions to implement programs targeting Timorese youth on responsible drinking practices.
Fundasaun Mahein (FM) implores all motorists and pedestrians using the roads during the holiday season to exercise extra caution and vigilance.
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Extreme caution should be taken when traveling on the night of New Year’s Eve. FM also urges partygoers to drink responsibly, and to not get onto a motorbike or into a car if the driver is intoxicated. Similarly, do not let friends drive drunk.
FM also recommends that the government launch a responsible drinking campaign before the 2014 holiday season begins.
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This campaign should be coupled with more stringent drinking laws; specifically, the passage of an underage drinking law as well as better enforcement of Timor’s current drinking and driving legislation.