Take advantage of public goodwill to carry out transport sector reforms

Two weeks after the government launched a crackdown to rid the public transport industry of madness, the momentum has suddenly slumped. Even before the crackdown started, Kenyans had sat back with glee hoping they would at last have safer roads and an efficient public transport.

In fact, Cabinet secretaries for Interior and Transport, Fred Matiang’i and James Macharia respectively had promised a “ruthless and painful” process by a multi-agency team to enforce ‘Michuki rules.’

Unfortunately, however, matatu cartels are still having a field day. Greasing of palms continues as city drivers break traffic rules with abandon.

The gangs, rogue operators and corrupt traffic police officers have conceived new ways to defeat the sanitisation bid, leaving Kenyans to their own devises. A spot check in major towns shows there are matatus still in operation without seat belts, insurance cover, speed governors and the mandatory yellow line. 

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When a government conceives an idea, sets timelines, secures resources and deploys personnel to execute it then flatly fails to deliver, the taxpayer has reason to be worried. An efficient transport system is integral to the economic health of any nation. We aren’t an exception.

We urge the government to follow its tough talk with action. A few individuals with connections in higher offices shouldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of public good. The country has more than 200,000 registered PSVs in Nairobi, run by Saccos and limited companies but which are held hostage by cartels. PSVs part with Sh50 billion annually through bribes.

We call on the government to reassess its priorities. There was talk of instant fines, hotlines to report traffic offenders, a Bus Rapid Transport, new generation driving licenses and the Nairobi Commuter rail project, all of which have never taken off.

There was also the cashless payment system which failed on arrival not to mention the smart number plate’s idea whose take off has stalled. Kenyans long for a reliable transport system akin to Kenya Bus operations between 1970s and 80s. There’s no magic bullet in this. It’s been done and can still be done.

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