The closure of more than 300 driving schools for failing to adhere to the rules is a mighty blow struck for road safety. As many Kenyans continue to perish on the roads, the contribution of some of these makeshift schools has become evident. Those that have been shut down were so rudimentary that it is hard to believe that they had been licensed in the first place.
According to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, some did not have sufficient training aids or grounds and hired incompetent or questionable instructors. Some of the schools, he says, were found in suspect locations, in blatant violation of the Traffic Act. In one fell swoop, gone are these shadowy merchants of death masquerading as driving schools, and just over 50 per cent of all the institutions.
It is encouraging to hear that the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) will provide a new curriculum for driving schools, to be offered in the TVET institutions. These reforms are long overdue in efforts to curb the slaughter on our roads. The NTSA says that since the beginning of the year, some 1,859 people have perished on the roads.
It is alarming that the toll has already surpassed last year’s 1,760. The biggest culprit is the public transport sector, with rogue matatu drivers leading the fatal race.
The reforms in the driving school section are crucial, as having these machines in the hands of incompetent people is condemning the travellers to preventable deaths. But this should just be the beginning of a relentless campaign to promote and sustain a road safety culture. As driver instruction is streamlined, passengers and pedestrians must also play a role in enhancing their own safety on the roads by refusing to let others endanger their lives.