Speed maniacs to be kicked out of public transport

A motor vehicle inspector inspects a matatu on wheel balancing, brakes and speed governor. [File, Standard]

A new dawn is reigning on Monday, August 1, when an estimated 300,000 public service vehicles (PSV) and heavy commercial trucks will submit their speed governors for inspection and validation.

Every public transporter is supposed to go to the dealer who fitted his or her vehicle with a speed governor to ensure the gadget is recording, transmitting and immobilising the vehicle in case it exceeds the 80-kilometres per hour speed limit.

The recall has been necessitated by the emergence of road accidents, which have claimed thousands of lives through reckless accidents caused by speeding.

Road Safety Association of Kenya Chairman Daniel Kiarie told the Sunday Standard that following a stakeholders' meeting in Nairobi on Friday, it was decided that all the speed governors be inspected to ensure the operators are adhering to the speed limit.

“Starting from Monday and for the next 45 days, every vendor must recall all the vehicles they have fitted with speed governors to restore them to the required standards. The inspection will check that the gadgets have not been tampered with. If they are not limiting speed and transmitting data to National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) they must be repaired,” Kiarie said.

He said the vehicle owners will not be expected to pay any money to the vendors for the repair of the speed governors, adding that thereafter the National Police Service will then issue a certificate indicating that the vehicle is now compliant.

“This madness of road accidents will come to an end. Once we are done with the exercise, no public service vehicle or a heavy commercial truck will drive at a speed of over 80. We will have a hotline where any speeding vehicle will be reported so that traffic police can take prompt action," Kiarie said

The journey to eradicating speed-related road accidents started in 2019 when NTSA, the traffic police, Kenya Bureau of Standards, Matatu Owners Association as well as the Road Safety Association of Kenya formulated standards for a three-in-one speed governor.

The three-in-one speed governor was, according to technology experts, a black box that should inform NTSA every time a driver disconnected the governor and was cruising at a speed of more than 80km per hour.

The gadget was also supposed to record and transmit data and at the same time give a vehicle’s location in real-time. The owner of the vehicle, Kiarie explained, was supposed to be informed whenever the speed governor had been tampered with.

However, in November 2019, a month after the new generation of speed governors were launched, some crafty transporters started fitting their vehicles with tracking devices instead of tamper-proof gadgets.

Prior to the introduction of the new generation speed governors, a study conducted by the Road Safety Association of Kenya found how some drivers and matatu operators would remove the old generation GPS-based gadgets immediately after accidents, making it difficult to nail speeding and reckless drivers.

It is this mischief the tamper-proof speed governors were supposed to cure by transmitting data to NTSA servers every few seconds, meaning in the event of a crash, the authorities could see the activities at the driver's cabin moments before a crash.

Kiarie said if the speed governor was removed or bypassed by a rogue driver, the registered owner of the vehicle is supposed to be notified through a short message service (SMS).  

“The gadget reports when a driver misbehaves on the road as it transmits data to NTSA every five seconds,” he said.

The matatu owners said the bogus speed governors lacked speed retardation at 80km per hour, were not tamper-proof and did not have inbuilt recording and thermal printer to transmit data from the vehicle to NTSA servers.

It had taken two years to develop the KS2295:2018 model, which has a failsafe component and immobilises a vehicle when the driver exceeds speed limits. They were further supposed to be tamper-proof and have inbuilt recording and thermal printers to transmit data from the vehicle to NTSA servers.

When a driver drives faster than 80km per hour, the speed governor is supposed to reduce the speed to crawling at 20km per hour, but some suppliers had found a way around this.

To further check the speed maniacs, the Road Safety Association of Kenya has roped in the Association of Kenya Insurers so that in the event of an accident, the data from the vehicle is analysed and if it is found to have sped past the limit, the owner will not be compensated by the insurer.