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Audit quality of roads to reduce fatal crashes

By Editorial | Feb 27th 2022 | 2 min read
By Editorial | February 27th 2022

Collapsed Paai bridge, Kajiado County. [Courtesy]

Besides driver error and faulty vehicles, poor road design is the other leading cause of road crashes in Kenya.

With numerous road construction projects going on across the country, it is important for the government agencies mandated to oversee infrastructure development and public safety to ensure that we get the right road designs at inception stage.

In the past, contractors were only required to bid for tarmacking of roads, without giving sufficient consideration for non-motorised users, such as bicycle and motorcycle riders and pedestrians. This oversight, in large part, is to blame for the high fatality rates among these road users. They are, in essence, victims of poor road design and the assumption that tarmacked roads are only meant for motor vehicles.

This erroneous assumption has been largely to blame for the high number of fatalities on highways and urban roads which, sadly, are not designed with all potential users in mind. However, it had to take deaths on Ngong Road for the relevant authorities to finally accept that road design is a serious threat to public safety on Kenyan roads. That is why the announcement by the Kenya Roads Board, that it will start auditing the quality of roads is timely although the agency ought to have acted earlier.

First, it means that going forward, deliberate decisions and actions should be taken to ensure that road designs take all users into consideration. Secondly, during construction, the sections for various users should be built in such a way that non-authorised users, say vehicles, will be unable to access pedestrian or cycling paths for instance.

Thirdly, there will be need for continuous road user education to guarantee long-term compliance given the lack of sufficient capacity for traffic police to enforce compliance.

Finally, there is need for road construction agencies and contractors to engage civil engineers and other experts to audit the roads during and after construction to make compliance with safety requirements a standard operating procedure.

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