• The aircraft related accidents will continue to be investigated according to the Civil Aviation Act, 2013 in order to continue complying with international obligations.
• The Cabinet was apprised on institutional and legal deficiencies in relation to transport accident investigations and the need to create an independent agency.
Cabinet approved the establishment of the Kenya Transport Accident Investigation Bureau, which will be an independent and autonomous agency responsible for carrying out all transport related accident investigations and making appropriate recommendations to enhance transport safety in the country.
Cabinet also approved the development of a legal framework, the Kenya Transport Accident Investigation Bureau Bill, 2023 for the establishment of the Bureau. In the meantime, the aircraft related accidents will continue to be investigated according to the Civil Aviation Act, 2013 in order to continue complying with international obligations.
The Cabinet was apprised on institutional and legal deficiencies in relation to transport accident investigations and the need to create an independent agency responsible for accident investigations.
An efficient transport system facilitates ease in labor, products and services movement thus facilitating trade within the economy as well as in international trade. This efficiency results in improved economic growth and the resultant low unemployment rate.
The Vision 2030identifies improved infrastructural development as a critical enabler to the realization of the sustainable growth ambits in Kenya. The demand for transport infrastructure and services has been immensely influenced by the economic policies in implementation under Vision 2030, population growth, urbanization, increased volume of trade and productivity both in Kenya and in the neighboring countries.
The sector contribution to the economic growth continued to be significant with the total value of output from the sector rising by 16.7 per cent to Sh2,293.3 billion in 2021. The Transportation and storage sector expanded by 7.2 per cent in 2021 compared to a contraction of 7.8 per cent in 2020.
The growth was largely supported by the relaxation of Covid-19 containment measures which constrained activities in the sector for the better part of 2020 (KNBS Economic Survey 2022). As transport activities increase, so does the risk of accidents and incidents. Accidents and serious incidents exert huge burdens on Kenya's economy hence, if unchecked may erode the economic gains.
The Ministry of Transport in 2009 developed an Integrated National Transport Policy (INTP)that was approved by the Cabinet. Parliament under Sessional Paper No. 1 approved the INTP in 2012 to guide the development of an Integrated National Transport System.
The Integrated National Transport Policy Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2012 that built the case for integrating the transport system highlighted the poor safety trends in Kenya's Transport Sector. The policy proposes the establishment of National Transport Safety Board to handle accidents investigation in the transport sector separately from agencies responsible for policy, regulation and service provision.
To date various agencies have been created to address transport safety matters through legislation. In particular, Kenya Maritime Authority to handle maritime transport matters; Kenya Civil Aviation Authority deals with air transport safety matters; National Transport Safety Authority deals with road transport safety issues while in rail transport, there is no independent agency to deal with rail transport safety but it is handled within the Kenya Railways Corporation.
In regard to accidents, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Department was created to investigate air accidents and serious incidents agency is charged with the responsibility of accident investigation in pipeline, road, rail and maritime. The best practice internationally is the separation of transport safety regulation from accident investigation to ensure autonomy and objectivity.
The transport sector is faced with a major challenge of increasing accident trends especially in the road sector. For instance, in the road sector, fatalities from accidents were reported in the years 2019/2020, 2020/2021,2021/2022 are 3586, 3975, 4579 and 4690 respectively. This adds up to 16,830 fatalities and an average of 4207 fatalities every year. In the rail sector, there were 3 deaths and 42 injuries in 2020, 10 deaths and 24 injuries in 2021 and 9 deaths and 30injuries in 2022.
In Maritime, several accidents and serious incidents have happened resulting in 30 fatalities in the last two years alone. However, in the maritime sector, the reporting of accidents involving small vessels is usually overlooked. There is a tendency to over-concentrate on transport safety regulation while transport accident investigations are overlooked in the maritime, rail and road transport, where no independent agency exists to conduct accident investigation with the aim of improving safety in the various modes.
In rail transport sub-sector, the Kenya Railways Corporation is the infrastructure developer, service provider and also responsible for safety regulations and accident investigation. The road sector which has always been the biggest concern because of the high yearly fatality rates has the National Transport Safety Authority as a regulator and an oversight agency. Even in air transport where Aircraft Accident Investigation Department is responsible for Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirements.
The transport safety investigation as currently implemented has transport regulators, policymakers and service themselves with conflict of interest that will hamper independent and impartial reporting and therefore credibility of such investigations is questionable. This trend poses the biggest risk of conducting investigations that are not independent and mostly geared to apportioning blame and as a means of determining liability, at the same time absolving oneself from responsibility.
Kenya has now embarked on broad infrastructure plans that further improves transport and mobility. The key projects being; road expansion, the Lamu Port- South Sudan- Ethiopia Transport Corridor Development (LAPSSET), Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), Mombasa Port, Airports and Airstrips expansion. Accident investigations capacity will therefore be come critical.
Given the existing setup that warrants creation of an agency to investigate all transport related accidents, the future plans for the expansion for the road and rail network even along new transport corridors; growth of the aviation and maritime transport industry also calls for an independent agency with adequate capacity for accident investigation across the transport network.
The Integrated National Transport Policy, Sessional Paper No 1 of 2012, proposes the creation of a National Transportation Safety Board (Kenya Transport Accidents Investigation Bureau) to act as an independent accident and serious incident investigator. In line with the Sessional Paper, creation of Kenya Transport Accidents Investigation Bureau proposed as an independent agency for purposes of carrying out transport accident investigations and making appropriate recommendations to enhance transport safety in the country.
Kenya Transport Accidents Investigation Bureau will pursue safety interventions in Road Transport, Air Transport, Rail Transport, Pipeline Transport and Maritime Transport. Kenya Transport Accidents Investigation Bureau independence will be integral to its safety role. Investigations that are independent of the parties involved in an accident, as well as transport regulators and government policy makers are better placed to avoid conflicts of interest and external interference.
Being able to investigate without external direction provides an assurance that the findings will be determined and reported fully without bias. In the case of road accidents for example, the Kenya Transport Accidents Investigation Bureau will take up this role, while NTSA and NPS will continue to exercise their statutory under the Traffic Act Cap 403 Laws of Kenya. To establish the bureau, a legal framework will be developed but, in the meantime, the aircraft related accidents will continue to be investigated according to the Civil Aviation Act,2013.
The concept of independent investigations into the causes of accidents and the issuing of recommendations to improve the safety of transportation was established in the United States in 1967 with the creation of the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB was the first independent investigation agency in the world to cover all modes of transportation; aviation, maritime, railway, road and pipeline.
Other States that formed multimodal accident agencies include Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Aviation Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, (representing 12of the former states of the Soviet Union), Netherlands, Finland, Chinese Taipei, Australia, the Republic of Korea and Japan. In Africa, Nigeria recently in 2022 established a Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB),multimodal transport safety investigation agency.
Kenya Transport Accident Investigation Bureau (KTAIB) will structure itself in line with global best practices such as the United States of America National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of Australia, and The Dutch Transport Safety Board (DTSB) of Netherlands.
Accidents Investigation Bureau (KTAIB) will ensure a reduction in cases of accidents and serious incidents in the country in general.
Kenya Transport Accidents Investigation Bureau will promote the sharing resources by the different modes of transport.
Development of common processes, practices, competencies, and training for operational and performance management purposes for accident investigation.
The different levels of quality assurances in the KTAIB will assure public confidence in investigations.
The KTAIB will promote the sharing of best practice, develop efficient use of resources between the modes, and ensure economy of operation, flexibility in resource allocation, transfer of safety lessons learned within and between transportation modes.
As a multimodal agency the KTAIB will have economies of scale, that might provide rapid response to accident sites when called upon to do so.8. The development of superior accident investigative techniques for use in one or more modes in the KTAIB, may improve the level of transparency in organizational and managerial issues. This will promote better resource utilization.