Voi, Sunday, June 10, 2018
Kenya’s economy is losing hundreds of millions of shillings annually through road accidents that have claimed the lives of 1,312 people since January this year.
Traffic commandant Samuel Kimaru said the burden of road accidents is negatively impacting on the economy due to the massive losses for both property, lives and the cost of treatment for the survivors of the accidents.
Addressing hundreds of drivers, riders and PSV owners on Saturday at Voi town during a Road Safety Awareness Campaign, the traffic boss said there was need for more discipline by road users.
He said there was need for more enforcement of traffic regulations to avoid loss of lives of innocent people.
“We have lost over 1, 312 lives in our roads since January. These deaths must be brought down and that will only happen through compliance with traffic rules,” he said adding that pedestrian deaths alone stood at 400.
Mr. Kimaru said the government had planned a raft of activities aimed at curbing the road carnage in the country, key amongst them a countrywide crackdown on small-sized cars operating as Public Service Vehicles.
He directed traffic bosses to impound such vehicles and charge the drivers for operating illegal business. Cars that will be targeted include Toyota Proboxes, Toyota Succeed, Sienta and Wish.
Kimaru said such vehicles could only be used as private cars or as Taxis after being registered by respective county governments.
He was accompanied by Highway Commandant Karrisa Mwaringa and a host of other senior police officers in the region.
During the meeting, the traffic police department was placed under spotlight over claims of accepting bribes to allow unroadworthy vehicles to operate on the roads.
Mr. James Mbae, a retired teacher, told the commandant that his officers colluded with Matatu Sacco owners to allow defective vehicles to operate in the region.
“Matatu owners and traffic officers are one and the same thing. You need to break down those cartels,” said Mbae.
Mr. Kimaru said corruption on the roads must be eliminated and urged his officers not to accept bribes at the expense of Kenyan’s lives.
He further appealed to the drivers to comply with all regulations to avoid finding themselves in a situation that would warrant temptation to bribe their way out of trouble.
Mr. Kimaru added that the government was optimistic that enforcement of traffic rules would now be done more effectively after traffic departments were placed under county police bosses stating that adjustments including blinking lights and enhanced rear-axle springs common in Matatus were outlawed and drivers of such vehicles will be arrested.
The commandant further warned that bodaboda riders were emerging as the new menace to all road users in the country adding that due to their numbers, the riders ganged up against other road users in case of accidents involving one of them and often resulted to violent acts of retaliation including torching private vehicles.
He said the government was closely noting the trends and would not take lightly hooliganism in the sector.
“Bodaboda riders across the country have become a gang that is taking law into its own hands. That will not be tolerated as we have police and the courts to arbitrate over accidents,” he said.
In the last two years, over four buses have been torched by bodaboda riders after vehicles were involved in accidents with riders.
Mr. Dudu Omar, chair of Umoja Riders Association, said the sector had employed thousands of jobless youths and only needed to be regulated as way of weeding out the rogue riders in the region.
Mr. Kimaru inspecting road compliance of St. Mary High School bus on Saturday.