Sarah Ndung’u, Roy Lumbe and Mathew Ndung’u @PeopleDailyke
Stirred by the fatal road accidents that have occurred recently, the government has announced a raft of stern measures to curb the carnage. The Ministry of Transport will deregister all driving schools for fresh vetting, overhaul the Traffic Police Department and subject drivers to scrutiny before issuance of new smart driver’s licence.
Transport Cabinet secretary James Macharia and his Interior counterpart Fred Matiang’i said the rise in statistics of fatal road accidents has caused grave concern, lately exacerbated by the loss of 180 lives in the past two weeks alone. Matiang’i said all driving schools will be de-registered to allow for fresh scrutiny of quality and compliance in a bid to curb road carnage.
Those found not compliant will be shut down. The Interior CS gave National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and the Traffic Police seven days to draft regulations and measures before the schools are allowed to re-apply for fresh accreditation.
“This madness on our roads must stop. We are giving driver’s licences to murderous people,” retorted a visibly agitated Matiang’i. Matiang’i, Macharia, NTSA officials, Traffic Police chiefs and stakeholders from the public service transport sector were speaking during a press conference at Transcom House, Nairobi, to address measures to help curb road carnage.
Matiang’i also took issue with the Judiciary for issuing orders to bar the Inspector General of Police (IG) from sacking rogue law enforcers. “IG Joseph Boinnet sacked 127 police officers over various offences only for them to be reinstated by a court,”said Matiangi.
Macharia warned drivers that they risk life imprisonment if found guilty of causing death through dangerously driving, “All drivers found speeding will have their licences cancelled. All drivers causing death by dangerous driving will have their licences revoked and will face the death sentence for murder,” warned Macharia.
The Transport ministry will also review licences for Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) allowed to operate at night. PSV saccos whose members are involved in road accidents will be banned, according to Macharia. NTSA has been ordered to profile all PSV and heavy commercial vehicles drivers to help in nabbing those who flout traffic rules.
Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairman Simon Kimutai called for a lifestyle audit of all Traffic Police bosses and their juniors. “Traffic police officers are not enforcing the law. They are cartels on our roads,” claimed Kimutai.
Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) chairman Dickson Mbugua said long distance truck drivers and boda boda riders have been left to operate with impunity. Kimutai said driving schools and testing regimes need to be harmonised. However, Macharia said there are 3.2 million vehicles on Kenyan roads against 3,000 police and 200 NTSA officers.
NTSA director general Francis Meja directed police to remove stalled vehicles from the roads within an hour. Meja ordered that once a vehicle stalls, cautionary measures should be taken to alert other road users.
“Anyone whose vehicle stalls should notify NTSA through 0718555999 or the police on 999 or 911,” the notice stated. Meja said stalled vehicles that are not removed within the hour will be towed to the nearest police station at the owner’s cost.
To enhance road safety along the Nakuru-Eldoret highway route, Macharia said short-term measures will be to install standard bumps and rumble strips, including road marking and signage. NTSA will, in the mid-term also construct emergency truck rumps and construction of lorry brake temperate checking, a holding yard at Kibunja and construction of a dual carriageway in the 10-kilometre climbing lane section.
According to Salgaa base commander Walter Kiptala, no driver will be spared, especially those who overlap dangerously and drive on the wrong side of the road.
At least 50 motorists were netted flaunting traffic rules and having unroadworthy vehicles by the NTSA yesterday and the crackdown will be sustained on all major highways during the festive season.
They are expected to be arraigned and charged in court with traffic violations, Kiptala added. Investigations show that majority of accidents are caused by speeding, lane indiscipline, reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.