OPINION

Showdown in PSVs sector unavoidable

There are well-founded fears of severe public transport disruption across the country as the resuscitated “Michuki rules” take effect today. 

The strident stance and terms dictated by the Transport and Interior Cabinet secretaries last week leave no room for doubt that, if implemented, a completely different public transport regimen could emerge but likely at a cost.

It’s nothing new. What is being done is that the regulations which were given effect by the National Transport and Safety Authority Act of 2013 will now get a sting after years of feeble enforcement courtesy of endemic corruption and brazen abuse of the rules by PSV operators encouraged by impunity and greed.   

The wake up call was the recent horrific Fort Ternan road crash which claimed 58 lives; a numbing scale that  stirred demands for action given that accidents are largely attributed to disregard for traffic regulations. The deadly cocktail is blamed for the 3,000 victims lost annually and 8,000 in the last three years.    

Internal controls that are ignored and the external oversight mechanism that are ineffectual must be reinforced. It was this realisation that  prodded Transport CS James Macharia and his Interior counterpart Fred Matiang’i to draw the line and publish notice on traffic law enforcement starting today. The goal is that reinstitution of the measures will instill order, sanity and   and eliminate road carnage. As Matiang’i warned, there will be pain but, as we witnessed 15 years ago, commuters may have to sacrifice.   

As the rules take effect, owners, co-operatives, operators and crew of PSVs are not necessarily on same page with the authorities. Matatu Welfare Association, Matatu Owners Association and the Association of Bus Operators are saying the deadline is too tight; forget the fact that the requirements are clear on speed governors, seat belts, uniforms, crew identification and passenger capacity by the NTSA Act. Progressively everything crumbled, leading to the current anarchy. Enforcement agencies became inconsistent, irresolute and ineffectual. The NTSA Act is clear on  vehicles inspection, validity of driving licenses and the Transport Licensing Board that gives the go ahead for operations. What’s more, Matiang’i last week pledged action to deal with insurance frauds. 

Kenyans also unwittingly abet road carnage by allowing themselves to be parked like sardines in PSVs and driven by maniacs. This means education is a critical component in road safety.

The cornerstone of justice is premised on evidence of any wrong committed. Those with other parameters  in seeking vengeance must get a taste of the law themselves. The avalanche of morbid fear the elderly in parts of this country have to shake off daily, makes a mockery of the presumption of innocent till proven guilty. 

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