State proposes strict measures to curb crashes

Tuesday, March 26th, 2024 01:45 | By
Nakuru accident
A scene of accident in Nakuru. PHOTO/Print

The government has proposed far-reaching measures to curb road accidents that have so far claimed more than 700 lives in less than three months.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kindiki Kithure regretted that in the period between January and February 2024, a total of 1,926 crashes were reported across the country as compared to 1,503 in a similar period the previous year, being a 28 per cent rise.

He said in March last year, they recorded an increase in the number of road accidents reported and a similar trend is being recorded this year with an increase of up to 28 per cent compared to last year.

Passenger and pedestrian deaths, he said, have recorded a 24 per cent and 23 per cent increase compared to last year.

He said: “The outcome of the crashes was 4,608 victims out of which 763 or 17 per cent were fatal. There was a six per cent increase in fatalities as compared to a similar period last year.”

In his submissions before MPs, Kindiki said the measures they have put in place include addressing the issues of motorcycles, retesting of driver, revamping of the traffic department, increase patrols, cooperation with Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and judiciary as well as revising of the Traffic Act-School Regulations of 2017 to include the age of the drivers, driving experience and conduct of the driver and their aides.

On motorcycles, he said there is a need for strict guidelines on purchase of motorcycles which should include a riding licence, police clearance certificate and ability to procure insurance as well as offering subsidised rates for licensing and insurance of motor cyclists.

Kindiki regretted that motorcycle related accidents had led to 255 deaths as of February 29 this year which is 35 per cent of all fatalities reported on the roads in that period.

He said: “To arrest the situation, enforcement exercises targeting motor cyclists who do not abide by the law led to the apprehension and prosecution of 5,590 motorcyclists and detaining of more than 6,692 motor cycles as at 29th February, 2024.”

On motor vehicles, Kindiki said there is a need for retesting and issuance of new licences to drivers of Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) school buses and long distance vehicles.

On PSVs, he raised concerns that personal vehicles were operating as Public Service Vehicles without going through the necessary licensing process, a move that he said has caused accidents in their attempts to maximise the number of trips they can make within a limited time period.

In this regard, he claimed that the most notorious vehicles are the ones commonly known as Noahs and Sientas as they ply both long and short distance routes especially during peak periods as demand for transport surpasses supply.

He said: “The National Police Service has continuously carried out impromptu operations to net these operators despite the hurdles experienced in prosecuting these offenders. The recent nationwide operation led to the arrest of more than 500 drivers.”

Illegal PSVs

And added: “Influx of illegal PSV whose arrest and prosecution has proved to be a challenge because of the high threshold of evidence laid by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution requires that passengers give statements and appear before court in areas that fall between the start of their journeys and their final destinations. This has always proved to be a huddle which results in 80 per cent of illegal PSV cases not prosecuted and hundreds of thousands in forfeitures.”

On long distance trucks, he regretted that defective motor vehicles on the road are as a result of both human error and mechanical defects as they account for 11 per cent of all traffic crashes.

He revealed that the most recent exercise which was carried out at the beginning of the year led to the arrest of 1,744 drivers for various violations and realisation of Sh10,886,167.00 as court fines and forfeitures.

Traffic department

On patrols, Kindiki said that motorised patrols could be increased and foot patrols reduced in a bid to reduce the interface between police and PSV operators while on the traffic department, he said there is a need for it to be revamped.

The Kenya Police Traffic Department, he said should be revamped and resourced directly from funds allocated to road safety under the agencies directly charged with road safety under the Ministry of Roads and Transport and should be equipped with motor vehicles and motor cycles to conduct motorised patrols, Modern speed cameras, breathalysers; and adequate funds to continuously carry out road safety awareness.

Said Kindiki: “Drunk driving has been identified as a cause for road traffic crashes. By use of breathalysers 1,086 drivers were arrested and charged before court for drunk driving from 1st January to 29th February, 2024.”

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