By Ongalo James Jr
Are Kenyan roads the most dangerous ones to drive on in Africa? No single day passes without cases of fatalities. According to National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), the country loses more than 3,000 people as a result of road crashes. This contradicts the latest World Heal Organization report released in December 2018 which stated that the country loses close to 12,000 road users annually.
“In 2017, the president ordered all police officers to be on the roads to ensure traffic rules are enforced. “This move would have been the best but the challenge is corruption and inability to enforce traffic rules including the Alco blow and speed governor equipment,” said a road safety expert Charles Mark’Oyoo.
According to Dr Mark’Oyoo, the removal of NTSA on the road was a wrong move adding that if the government felt NTSA officers were inadequate, it should have trained the officers instead of removing them from the roads. “The regulatory body is supposed to be part of enforcement because it knows what it is looking into,” said Dr Mark’Oyoo who consults on safety and health occupation.
Last year, a presidential directive removed NTSA from road after public outcry due to a wave of road crashes reported in December 2017. Since the removal of NTSA from the roads, road crashes continue to claim lives. One such example is a crash that happened at Kikopey, Nakuru after a truck hit a 2NK Matatu killing all passengers.
In the Kikopey accident, the truck also hit five other vehicles that were moving to the opposite direction. Luckily the occupants escaped with minor injuries. At the scene, personal effects soaked in blood and fuel were littered all over as police tried to control the surging crowd. A witness said that the ill-fated truck first hit the matatu before ramming into other vehicles.
Police said that passengers in other vehicles were not injured. “The information we are getting is that the truck started swaying from one side of the road to the other before hitting the matatu and the other vehicles,” a police officer said. A witness Peter Kinuthia narrated how the fast speeding truck was hooting and flashing its lights downhill before the crash occurred.
He said that the driver of the matatu tried to drive off the road to evade the lorry but it was too late. “The truck rammed the matatu on its side killing all the occupants on the spot before hitting five other vehicles and landing into a ditch,” he said.
In the last two years, over 30 people have died on the steep section of the road with mechanical failures blamed for the accidents. In 2017, a lorry lost control and rammed into a bus killing 20 people before another bus hit a lorry near the same area killing 18 people.