by Chris Mgidu
NAIROBI, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) — Kenyan authorities have vowed to restore sanity in the transport sector in its effort to tame the rising number of road accidents across the country.
Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government and his counterpart in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, James Macharia, urged all government agencies to work together to ensure sanity prevails on Kenyan roads.
Matiang’i who was addressing a road safety forum in Nairobi on Friday said the government will launch a crackdown from Monday to restore order and good management of the transport industry in the country.
He cited examples of motorcycle taxi operators, bus termini touts who have become a law unto themselves and vowed to weed out the cartels that have bedeviled the public transport sector.
“This is the only way we can save lives and restore order on our roads. When people invest in public service vehicles (PSVs), they are forced to pay faceless characters money so that they are allowed to operate on certain routes especially in many urban centers in the country. This must stop! We shall clean up bus stops and arrest anyone who harasses passengers. Order must be reinstated,” he warned.
Monday is the deadline issued to all PSVs and operators to comply with the traffic rules.
Macharia, on the other hand, said that the time for talking is over and called for agencies to work together for maximum effect. He added that they shall not be going after PSVs only and that the government is in the process of digitizing operations.
“If you break the law, you shall be jailed and prosecuted. These days, because of technological advancements, one should be careful what they do,” Macharia noted.
According to statistics from the transport sector regulator, road accidents in the country have so far claimed the lives of 2,626 people and seen 3,240 injured in a worrying trend that the government is hoping to reverse.
Francis Meja, Director General of the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), said Nairobi leads in accidents followed by Kiambu in east of Nairobi and Nakuru (northwest of Nairobi) with speeding and drunk driving as the main causes of accidents.
Meja told the forum that private vehicles are involved the most in road accidents.
According to Meja, 92 percent of these accidents are caused by human error, with mechanical problems accounting for five percent while environmental issues are to blame just three percent of the time.
The NTSA boss urged the police to strengthen security checks to help tame rogue drivers as well as impound unroadworthy vehicles.
Joseph Boinnet, inspector-general of police, called for caution and collective responsibility from road users, including motorists, passengers, and pedestrians.
Boinnet said the police force will be extra thorough as the festive season nears and also exploit the use of technology.
“We have set up six teams to support the various county teams during this festive season. We have commenced the use of technology in Mombasa and Nairobi to make it easy to report incidences of offenders of the traffic laws,” said Boinnet.
The government officials said they have adopted a long-term approach to solve the problem.
“This is not a one or two-month affair. That is why we have set up a multi-agency team jointly with the ministry of transport. The president has required us to file quarterly reports on how we are working on the changes in the public transport sector,” Matiang’i said.
Under the new rules, all drivers must have valid badges from their respective Saccos, drunk driving will not be tolerated, proper uniforms must be worn when one is on duty, the vehicle must have valid insurance certificates and must be registered with a Sacco.
If a vehicle carries excess passengers, the driver, conductor and passenger will be arrested.