Leaders talk tough on accidents but no action taken

People at the scene of an accident where a bus crashed and killed 56 people at Fort Tenan, Kericho, yesterday. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
The death toll of yesterday's accident surpasses that of August 2013, when a bus veered off the road in Narok, killing 41 people.

At the time President Uhuru Kenyatta said public service vehicle owners would be charged alongside the drivers since they should always ensure their vehicles were well maintained.

In his message of condolence to the affected families yesterday, the President reminded drivers to be cautious on the roads to avoid calamity.

In yet another accident in 2016, a tanker ferrying a highly inflammable substance literally turned into a fireball, ramming everything in its path. When the smoke settled, 39 people were dead.

“The President...joins all Kenyans in praying for the affected families, that they have the strength to overcome this tragedy,” said a statement from State House.

At the time the President directed the Kenya Police Service to take stern action against motorists flouting traffic rules. He also ordered the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to ensure there was proper signage on the highway and to erect bumps.

Early this year, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Transport colleague, James Macharia, announced that NTSA would be restricted to inspecting PSVs in bus stations, arguing that this would ensure that unroadworthy vehicles stayed off the roads in new measures to curb accidents.

In a joint statement, the duo said: “This will be to ensure drivers are not under the influence of alcohol or other substances when embarking on journeys. Similar checks for commercial trucks will be conducted at weighing bridges.”

The two said county police commanders would be held personally responsible for failing to enforce traffic laws, a role previously played by NTSA.

Roads were to be manned by traffic police and those attached to NTSA were asked to report to Vigilance House for redeployment.

“The Inspector General of Police will include reduction of road traffic fatality in the officer's performance contract and take action against those who fail to achieve set targets,” they said.

“All... drivers will undergo training and medical tests for conditions that may affect the driver's ability to drive. The Government is also expected to gazette new regulations for commercial vehicles to curb the increased accidents along the Northern Corridor,” said NTSA Director General Francis Meja. All this has done little to prevent accidents.

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