Vehicle inspection should be efficient and graft-free

Traffic police officers order matatu vehicles to park by the roadside for them to conduct inspections during a major crackdown on public and private vehicles along Eldoret-Nakuru highways. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

After President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2021 into law recently, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) will inspect all vehicles older than four years regularly. Breathalysers are also back, but the risk is that their use increases the chances of spreading Covid-19.

The need to carry out periodic inspection of vehicles cannot be gainsaid. This is because the number of accidents from defective vehicles, drink-driving, speeding and over loading continues to rise annually. Between June 2021 and June 2022, NTSA statistics show that road accidents claimed 1,968 people, up from 1,800 who died between June 2020 and June 2021.

Life is sacrosanct and must be protected at all costs, including a regular review of laws by taking into account factors that contribute to accidents. Yet even as this is desirable, we shouldn't forget that NTSA has failed to win public trust from the conduct of its officers, some of whom are corrupt.

Further, NTSA has completely failed to tame the rise in road accidents. Indeed, Kenyans are tired of burying friends and kin because of accidents that could have been avoided if only NTSA officials, traffic police officers and drivers religiously stuck to their side of the bargain in keeping our roads safe.

NTSA is likely to be constrained in the execution of its mandate for two reasons; inadequate personnel and a limited number of inspection units since it has only 17 across the country, which keeps motorists waiting in queues for long.

Corrupt NTSA unscrupulous officials have been known to give vehicles the green light after casually inspecting them. This practice might worsen. While private companies can be contracted to help NTSA, they could also become avenues for making easy cash from false or exaggerated claims for work done or not done.

It is upon NTSA to ensure that the planned vehicle inspection units don't aggravate the problem of corruption.