Senate takes NTSA to task over strategies to reduce road carnage


The scene of a tragic accident involving three vehicles - a lorry, bus, and a private car at Nyanja area in Kamara along the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway on October 7, 2023. [Courtesy]

The Senate has taken to task the National Transport Safety Authority over the measures his authority has taken to reduce road carnage with statistics showing that in 2022, some 4690 Kenyans lost their lives through accidents.

NTSA Director General George Njau who appeared before the Senate Transport Committee yesterday said the Authority has listed losing control, lane indiscipline, excessive speed,  swerving, crossing roads not masked by stationary vehicles and brake failure as some of the major factors causing road carnage.

Njau told the committee chaired by Kiambu Senator Karungo Thangwa that other factors causing accidents include tyre or wheel defect, pedestrian error of judgment, running into the road, overtaking properly, stealing a ride, obstruction, fatigue, stopping suddenly and reversing negligently respectively.

“Losing control, speeding, lane indiscipline and improper overtaking, pedestrian error of judgment while crossing the road, walking on the road and mechanical failure are some of the major human factors that contribute to road traffic crashes,” said Njau.

He said reliable and accurate data is important for making evidence-based decisions on crashes, where they are likely to occur and what kind of strategies can be taken to avoid or reduce fatalities in a specific location or region where the authority in the process of developing and implementing a national Road Crash Database System.

Senators questioned the NTSA on why it wants to conduct inspection on private vehicles despite lacking the capacity after it emerged that despite initiating the process of inspection of commercial vehicles, the exercise has not been completed months after it was started with more deaths still being experienced on the roads.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna told Njau that the Authority’s data does not show the real causes of car accidents, adding that the Police officers have been harassing motorists on drunk driving more than other factors with 315 accidents directly attributed to speeding with only 14 fatalities linked to drunk driving.

“It is in the public domain that NTSA puts up roadblocks to arrest people based on alcohol blow and speeding but your own data show otherwise, your data shows only 315 accidents can be directly attributed to speeding while only 14 fatalities can be attributed to drunk driving,” said Sifuna.

Nominated Senator Peris Tobiko said bribery along the roads should also be listed among the major factors of accidents on the road since the Police officers are more interested in taking bribes instead of checking on unroadworthy vehicles and taking action on those breaking the law.

Kilifi Stewart Madzayo wondered why the NTSA Director General Njau had failed to reign in on rogue drivers especially those in the Public Service Vehicles sector adding that drivers and touts flout rules at will which was a major cause of unavoidable accidents on the country roads.

“Does it mean that we only need someone like former Transport Minister late John Michuki to restore sanity on our roads, why is the National Transport Safety Authority not performing its role to ensure that our roads are safe,” wondered Madzayo.

On the inspection of private vehicles, the Senators told NTSA that Kenyans have already been overburdened by levies, this was after Njau told them that the authority plans to procure the services of the private sector in the inspection of the private vehicles to weed out all the un-roadworthy vehicles.

Traffic Police Commandant Mary Omari said that the National Police Service is currently training 1292 officers on a traffic management course at Kiganjo and that once graduate another cohort will be trained.

According to 2022 NTSA data on fatalities, of the 4690 deaths, 960 were attributed to losing control of the vehicles, 685 deaths could not be traced to any cause, lane discipline (529), overtaking improperly (501) while misjudging clearance distance or speed accounted to 334 deaths respectively.

In addition, excessive speed accounted for 315, pedestrian error of judgment (156), running into the road (145), crossing the road not masked by a stationary vehicle (116) negligence (111) while walking or standing on the road accounted for 71 deaths respectively.