The festive season is not over yet, and most Kenyans are still travelling to or from their rural homes and other destinations for their holidays.
It also follows that during this period, there is increased human traffic and vehicle movement especially on major highways.
Road transport remains the most popular mode in our country. It is, nevertheless, turning out to be the most risky, due to increased fatalities.
An estimated 3,000 lives are lost annually as a result of road traffic crashes, and approximately half of all deaths on our roads involve pedestrians.
The number of pedestrians killed in road carnages has reduced to 1,047 in the current year compared to 1,281 during similar period in 2015, representing an 18.3 per cent drop. Major sector concern is on the motorcycle sector, where accidents have increased by 12 per cent especially in major cities; this is however foreseen to drop as new regulations released early this year are being enforced.
Road crashes are a major worry to Kenyans especially at a time like this, when everyone is using the roads. These crashes are as a result of human error while others occur due to road infrastructure, condition of motor vehicles and weather conditions.
Human errors include speeding against recommended and set limits, drink driving; drink walking (pedestrians), dangerous and careless driving, lane indiscipline which involves dangerous overtaking and overlapping, non-use of protective gears such as reflectors and helmets by motorcyclists, disregard of traffic laws by motorcycle riders and their pillions as well as by other road users. In a bid to reduce the number of road crashes and injuries, the Government, through the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, has undertaken a number of initiatives.
One such initiative is a collaboration between Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and Matatu Owners Association (MOA) in combating and preventing corruption in the public transport sector.
EACC on its part, has a legal mandate to combat corruption and unethical practices by using their expertise in investigation and prevention. So far, EACC has arrested many motorists caught trying to bribe NTSA officials in the course of their duty. This joint effort between EACC and NTSA is an indication that close inter-agency partnerships is bearing fruits. We are confident that this is just the beginning of a major progress on our roads.
My Ministry will support NTSA in enhancing the budgets meant for public education and awareness. We shall aim at having a continuous campaign throughout the year as opposed to the current situation where campaigns are only limited to the festive period.
The police on the other hand will intensify law enforcement to deal firmly with traffic law violators. They will also increase their patrols throughout the country. The Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett has reaffirmed his commitment to enforce law and order on the roads. Police commandants will ensure more patrols are undertaken as opposed to rather than road blocks.
Road Infrastructure is one of the key contributions to accidents on the road and specifically on the standard of speed bumps construction. I have directed the respective road authorities; Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) and Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) to urgently audit all bumps on our roads to ensure that they conform to the approved design construction standards. The road audit exercise should be completed within a 4 weeks. In addition, appropriate signage will be erected to guide motorists. We will also try to ensure that bumps are marked for ease of visibility.
Consequently, we appeal the public to take community policing to the roads by partnering with us in protecting all road signages against vandalism.
It is important to recognise the role played by transport operators. As an instrumental part of this sector, they must adhere to the traffic rules and regulations and deal decisively with their members in the spirit of self-regulation.
The role of individual motorist is critical. We encourage all road users to report any traffic violations observed to the police hotlines the available channels and for immediate action.
I wish to take this opportunity to wish all a Merry Christmas and a safe 2017.