Kenya Can’t Afford Deaths on Our Roads

Updated: December 8, 2013

We must get to a point as a country to decide enough is enough and decisively confront deaths on our roads.

We must address the root causes of road accidents and make our roads safer. The need for national consciousness in dealing with the rampant road accidents could not have been more urgent.

We are right in the festive mood; a season when many motorists are known to drink and drive against the law. In their drunken stupor, drivers would naturally be unable to be in full control of their vehicles on the road. And for their pleasure, they cause death and suffering to unsuspecting road users.

This is unacceptable and authorities must find a lasting solution to the ugly cycle of road carnage. So much human capital has gone to waste through road crashes. The government, transport stakeholders and individual Kenyans must now take full charge of safety on our roads.

Kenyan roads are rated among the most insecure in the world, a feat doing us great harm in terms of attracting the much needed foreign investment. Just yesterday, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero was injured in an accident after his car overturned in Kisii. That such a high-ranking official is not spared the death trap that is the Kenyan roads should prick everyone’s conscience.

It is not enough to point fingers at traffic police officers or the state of our roads. This is not to absolve the two from blame. Concerted efforts are needed right from the President, the Transport Secretary, matatu owners and PSV crew.

Stories are told of how PSV owners demand so much money from the crew on a daily basis, who are then forced to drive recklessly to make an extra coin. We have become accustomed to the practice of traffic police officers looking the other way after getting a bribe from unroadworthy or overloaded vehicles.

Faulty vehicles on our bad roads are a common feature. These are concerns we must all confront and come up with solutions. Leadership on this matter must now come from the very top.

The number, frequency and intensity of road accidents have reached the threshold for being declared a national disaster. It would be a step in the right direction for the presidency to take keen interest on the matter and set up a special team in his office to advise him on road accidents and come up with a sustainable approach to stopping the deaths on our roads.

Indeed, before he became President, Mwai Kibaki had an accident that confined him to a wheelchair for several months. Some 3,000 lives are lost on Kenyan roads, 9,000 people maimed for life and 26,000 vehicles and property worth millions of shillings destroyed annually.

What more statistics do we need to act promptly to stem this trend? It is bewildering how life seems not to be taken seriously. When an accident happens, traffic police officers swiftly mount crackdowns on drivers and vehicles flouting traffic rules, but only for a few days.

This knee-jerk reaction to road carnage must stop. Traffic police officers and indeed all Kenyans must come up with proactive measures to prevent road accidents. During this festive season, as has become our custom, many PSV operators will be tempted to overload and over speed to make more money.

This must be dealt with seriously by not only the police officers, but also the passengers and PSV owners. Let us all take charge of our personal safety on the road and be mindful of the safety of other road users.

Ultimately, we need a complete change of driving habits. Overlapping, blocking an overtaking motorist, refusing to give way, blinding oncoming motorists with lights, driving on the wrong lane and speeding are some of the habits Kenyans must start dealing with seriously.

Decorum on the road is the surest way out of the spiraling road crashes. Be safe.

News Source: STANDARD Digital

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>