The accident in which 8 pupils of St Gabriel Primary School, Mwingi died on Saturday night should never have happened. The accident is reported to have occurred at around 11pm while the pupils were returning from an academic trip to Mombasa.
While this newspaper commiserates with the bereaved families over the needless loss, several issues come to light. First is the disregard of directives from the Ministry of Education that mean well for both learners and teachers. Second is the blatant violation of traffic laws and the apparent lethargy among traffic law enforcers.
The directive to paint school buses yellow was for a good purpose, so was the directive that any school activity entailing travel be undertaken between 6am and 6pm. Those are the hours in which visibility is good and drivers are alert to the ever present dangers on the road. Yet this particular accident occurred close to midnight when not only visibility is poor, but driver judgement too. That the accident occurred over a bridge vindicates this view.
Equally important, there is a law that bars heavy trucks from moving on our roads between 6am and 6pm. Enforcement of that law is in the province of the Traffic Police Department.
Given the time of the accident, clearly the school management failed to schedule the trip within the stipulated timelines and the traffic police officers, known more for extorting bribes from motorists than enforcing laws, were sleeping on the job. Sad as it is, this accident should warn school managements to observe the law; as well as warn the police to enforce laws.