Transport Licensing Board (TLB) has set up an integrated data system that will keep track of passenger vehicles details such the owner of the vehicle and the route it is registered to operate on in a move to rein in errant operators.
The board is targeting to reduce increased vehicle theft, use of unlicensed vehicles and check unregulated route changing by operators.
The TLB chairman, Mr Hassan Ole Kamwaro, said the database is ready but they are working together with Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Police inspection unit to combine their individual database into a comprehensive data system on road transport in the country.
Once integrated with the KRA data system, the database will come in handy for those purchasing second hand vehicles, since one can check the ownership details online before entering into a contract with the seller.
The chairman said most passenger vehicles are operating without valid TLB licenses and some of them change routes without notifying the regulator.
“This will help the public shun and report rogue operators in the market who are responsible for most accidents,” said Mr Kamwaro.
This he said would help to reduce the circulation of fake licences by fraudsters in the industry since the vehicles would not be recognised in the database during a search.
The system will be accessible to the public through a text message. To search, one will be required to send the vehicle identification number to the system through a shortcode number 5456, then they will receive an SMS showing the status of the vehicle in question. Whether it is licensed or not, whether it is on the right route or not.
The system will also identify the vehicles by showing which sacco it belongs to, enabling law enforcers to pursue the owners and take legal action. Fake saccos owned by cartels are due to be de-registered by the board. TLB hopes new investors will use the system to identify genuine saccos since they have easy access to information.
Mr Kamwaro said many vehicles with fake licences have increased on the road due to increased cases of theft in the country that have boosted the making of fake licenses.
Since the beginning of the year, the number of unlicensed PSV operators has increased due to steady demand and the slow replacement of 14-seater vehicles.
Industry players said the fake operators are taking advantage of the reducing 14-seater vehicles by replacing them with smaller cars such as Toyota probox and other saloons cars since volumes in high-end estates and rural areas cannot sustain big buses.
“People want vehicles that can fill faster and leave the stage not big buses,” said Wilfred Kimotho chairman 4NTE, one of the biggest saccos in the passenger transport sector.
Players in the passenger transport sector said the 14 seater matatus are not being replaced at the same rate at which they are wearing out and other rogue players are taking advantage of the loop hole to bring in vehicles with fake licences to cash in on high demand for the services.
Mr Kamwaro said in addition that driving licences will also be applied for electronically in a bid to reduce the time required to get the licence. Criminal records of drivers will also be accessible online.
According to police statistics, most accidents are caused by drivers who change their routes, especially during the festive season and in most cases the drivers are not conversant with the roads.
The board said they will soon lay an ambush on major roads in the country to nab unlicensed and un-roadworthy vehicles.
This is yet another state investment in electronic data storage systems to facilitate easy access to information by the public and law enforcement agencies.