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November 21, 2018

NTSA move not enough, overhaul 'corrupt' traffic team, Haki Africa tells Uhuru

Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid who wants an overhaul of the traffic department to reduce road carnage. /Ernest Cornel
Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid who wants an overhaul of the traffic department to reduce road carnage. /Ernest Cornel

Haki Africa has asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to overhaul the traffic department to reduce road carnage.

The lobby group wrote an open letter to the president on January 4, asking him to disband the National Transport and Safety Authority.

Five days latter, Uhuru ordered the authority's officials off the roads and declared that traffic police were in charge.

"We have decided that all NTSA officers withdraw from the roads and leave traffic work to police. We want to see if we can restore order on the roads."

More on this: [VIDEO] Uhuru orders NTSA off roads, says traffic cops in charge

Haki Africa's Hussein Khalid thanked the president on Thursday but said this was not enough.

"Your excellency, while we appreciate your move to allow police to manage road traffic, we request you to also consider overhauling the traffic department to reduce corruption and ensure professionalism," the executive director said in a statement.

Khalid noted the department was the most corrupt as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission found.

'NTSA should concentrate on policies'

But Matatu Owners Association said "good riddance" regarding the removal of NTSA officials from roads.

Coast chairman Salim Mbarak, who had rebuked the authority for banning night travel, said their roles conflicted and that in some instances, this led to road accidents.

In 2016, the National Police Service seconded some 200 police officers to NTSA to help with enforcing traffic laws.

Speaking to The Star by phone on Thursday, Mbarak said the authority's teams should remain in their offices and concentrate on policy formulation.

"Police should be left to implement them," he said on Thursday.

Mbarak said Uhuru's directive was long overdue as more than 330 people died in grisly road accidents in December alone. Most of them took place at night.

"Police should now streamline the sector and restore sanity," he said. "Reckless driving, overloading and a bad attitude among matatu operators should be dealt with firmly."

Mbarak said NTSA officials, "in most cases, hide in bushes" to record speeding motorists but that the vehicles often end up in accidents in the same areas.

"Why were they hiding? What uniqueness did the operation have?"

He asked the government to lift the ban on night bus.

Since NTSA director general Francis Meja effected the ban, the authority has been criticised for taking ineffective steps.

Some Members of Parliament want the authority disbanded for failing to curb road accidents.  ODM's John Mbadi of Suba South is one of those who said the night travel ban was meaningless.

But in December last year, matatu owners demanded a lifestyle and bank account audit of traffic police officers.

Association chair Simon Kimutai accused police of enriching themselves by demanding bribes rather than ensuring law and order on roads.

More on this: Matatu owners demand lifestyle audit of corrupt traffic cops

Also read: Police, Lands ministry and Judiciary most corrupt in Kenya - bribery index

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