Kenya’s most horrendous road crash yesterday dawn in Fort Ternan, Kericho county which snuffed out a mind-boggling 50 lives came barely two weeks after a similar bus carnage near Gilgil where 12 perished. These statistics are numbing and the question must be asked; when will this dalliance with morbidity end?
Research and trends are unequivocal that our road accidents are largely attributable to human error. The factors commission and omission; lethargy, impunity and weak enforcement of traffic regulations. The lethal combination is responsible for the slaughter of 3,000 lives annually.
Accidents don’t just happen. Incompetence, indiscipline, greed and compromised enforcement of rules are responsible for the heart-stopping morbidity figure.
Internal controls that are ignored and the external oversight mechanism that are ineffectual must be reinforced and made to work. A distorted and toxic sense of self-entitlement, mad pursuit for short term benefits without a tinge of responsibility, have degraded our capacity to embrace ethics. This then manifests in how we use highways and roads.
The Traffic Act reads appropriately tough but it all wilts at implementation.The National Transport Safety Authority Act is unambiguous on its role and mandate of inspection, certification, implementation, formulation and regulation, among other provisions. The missing, yet the more crucial bit is in execution.
Besides PSV owners and their crew, the blood drenching our roads are in the hands of NTSA and the assorted thousands of police officers manning our highways who must henceforth up their game which currently falls dismally short because of lack of passionate, consistency, nor resoluteness in the enforcement.
We insist so because traffic regulations are clear on issues of speed limits, road worthiness, guidelines on who should drive, passenger capacity, the mechanical status of the vehicles,vehicles inspection and licensing. Indeed it is not the absence of regulations but rather the failure to implement them that is our greatest un doing.
And it must be a wake up call to Kenyans who abet the road carnage by allowing themselves to be parked like sardines or driven by maniacs. When people are pliant and lack the courage of conviction to say no to excesses,manipulation and abuse, then tears and sorrow from road casualties will continue to flow.
Barely a fortnight ago, a speeding bus from western Kenya heading to Nairobi apparently in bid to overtake a truck near Gilgil rolled, killing 12 people. And like the Fort Ternan crash yesterday which survivors say was also speeding, the Gilgil crash also occurred at dawn; a pointer to lowered alertness and concentration likely due to fatigue.
There is clear correlation between night travel and accidents by buses. Indeed during the night travel ban imposed by NTSA early last year, there were considerably fewer accidents. The ban was lifted following outcry by bus owners. We say impose strict timetables on travel schedules and come more heavily on even slight breaches. Reactive pledges of taking action by authorities already sound like broken record.