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October 19, 2018

Corruption fuelling death on our roads

The Home Boyz bus that crashed near Fort Ternan in Kericho on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. /SONU TANU
The Home Boyz bus that crashed near Fort Ternan in Kericho on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. /SONU TANU

The soaring road accidents in Kenya point to many factors, one is the software which comprises of attitude and our driving culture and secondly the hardware which consists of the civil, structural and mechanical engineering of our roads and vehicles.

Most drivers are not serious and never follow to the traffic code. For instance, drivers are increasingly on Facebook, WhatsApp or speaking on phone, disrupting their concentration.

Others are under the influence of alcohol and drugs whereas some are fatigued or in the wrong frame of mind. Overloading, speeding and breaking all the rules is the norm.

Lack of vehicle inspection also leads to an increase in the number of unroadworthy vehicles.

All the above factors are fuelled by corruption since the drivers and vehicles owners know they can literally get away with anything.

These unholy alliances between drivers and the police is what is costing us, not only in terms of human lives, but economically as well.

Our roads are also a contributing factor to accidents. To see a reduction of deaths on our roads, there is a need to re-look at how our road engineering work is done.

The roads need proper signage, they need good wide climbing lanes, as well as parking space for stalled vehicles. But of great importance is the need for provisions of walkways and flyovers on every road constructed to minimise pedestrian accidents.

Looking at the structure of most buses and matatus in Kenya,  it seems we board moving coffins as safety standards are wanting or totally absent.

They are no longer the safest means of transport because their body frames are made of light and low gauge metal, making them prone to being mashed incase of an accident. This explains why the roofs of those buses always come off when they roll in an accident whose results is always massive fatalities.

To prevent catastrophic death and accidents, there is need to enforce the building code for bodies of these buses so there is a strong superstructure that will minimise mangling of the body structure in case of accidents.

This can be done with the help of bringing in experts from countries like Japan or alternatively stop local assembly and fabrication of buses until the standards are achieved and import buses whose safety standards are reliable.

Mutashi is the executive director of Safe Drive Africa. He spoke to the Star.

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