The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) seems to have changed tack in dealing with errant drivers on Kenyan roads. From recent events, rather than arresting and taking errant drivers to court, they engaged them on the need and importance of road safety.
Passengers in public service vehicles were educated on the importance of using seat belts. For an authority known more for making unwarranted arrests and given to knee-jerk reactions in dealing with the road menace, this came as a big surprise.
Days before this, NTSA had shamed a number of drivers by forcing them to carry placards besides the road declaring that they were errant drivers until another reckless driver was flagged down.
The placards read: “Kindly observe lane discipline, don’t be like me.” Wayward drivers along the black spot known as Sachangwan were also forced to wear reflective jackets for not observing lane discipline and staying within the designated speed limit.
It is a well-documented fact that the behaviour of most Kenyans, whether motorists or pedestrians has sunk so low and conversely, caused the number of deaths from road accidents to go high.
Overlapping, speeding, driving on sidewalks, picking and dropping off passengers at undesignated places, talking on the phone while crossing the road, refusal to use Zebra Crossings and foot bridges as a safety measure have become the order of the day.
Despite the fact that the National Transport and Road Safety Authority has had a measure of success in reining in errant drivers, we must question some of their methods. While many may have applauded NTSA for embarrassing the unfortunate drivers, this raises a major concern; do such measures have a legal backing?
As effective as it might be, it is important for NTSA to institutionalise the punishment to avoid drawing upon itself expensive legal suits.