Alarm over tampering of digital speed governors by PSVs

NTSA Road Safety Director Matthew Munyao (left) and another NTSA officer
inspect a speed governor fitted on a PSV at Railways bus terminal in Nakuru
town on December 9, last year. Matatu crew are tampering with the devices.
NAIVASHA: A cartel in the public transport sector has perfected the art of tampering with the digital speed governors that were introduced as a strategy to curb road accidents.

The Standard has unearthed a racket where public service vehicle (PSV) operators, especially those cruising long distances, have been tampering with the safety gadgets.

Last year, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) ordered all PSV operators to fit their vehicles with the digital devices to avoid tampering as had been the norm with the earlier generation of speed governors.

Several companies were vetted and authorised to import and fix the new safety devices.

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But it is now apparent that operators are working in cahoots with experienced technicians to tamper with the safety gadgets. Our week long investigations revealed that the technicians are minting thousands of shillings daily from operators who want the gadget tampered with.

The technicians charge between Sh2,500 and Sh3,500 per vehicle to show the crew how to reactivate the safety device if they sense danger of arrest along the highways.

The technicians insert an empty memory card into the speed censor to re-configure the safety device. Once the devise is disabled, it remains irrelevant as all the recorded details in the past 72 hours are erased.

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The matatu crews have also been taken through steps to reactivate the gadgets through switching off the engine and removing the power terminals from the vehicle battery for five minutes. Drivers found contravening the law are fined at least Sh20,000, but most prefer to part with Sh10,000 as bribes to errant police officers.

NTSA Road Safety Director Mathew Munyao said he was aware that some of the devices have been tampered with but there are mechanisms to recapture the lost data.

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He said the vehicles have tracking systems, which despite the speed governor being deactivated, remain active in capturing speed data.

"They should understand that tracking systems cannot be corrupted as only our officers have software to retrieve the data," said Munyao.

He said the Kenya Bureau of Standards had raised a red flag on some of the devices and management of the dealers summoned to prove their worth. The management of the companies are expected to meet NTSA officers and police this week.

Munyao said in the last seven days, cameras installed by the NTSA detected that over 150 matatus have been speeding.

"The affected drivers have been summoned to visit our offices as they are likely to be charged with the offence," said the Munyao.

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PSV speed governors