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Leverage on Public Private Partnerships to enhance road safety in Kenya

By William Benthall | Oct 24th 2019 | 3 min read
By William Benthall | October 24th 2019

The growing concerns about our road safety standards warrants concerted action. Rapid motorization in low and middle-income countries has made road safety a major concern and Kenya is no exception to this phenomenon. At the center of this tragic discourse is the worrying increase in the number of cases of bodaboda related road accidents in the country.

Data from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) indicates that at least 684 people have been killed in motorcycle-related accidents this year. This is a whopping 27 percent increase over last year’s numbers. This situation demands intervention to save lives and to continue building a thriving sector that has created enormous opportunities for Kenyan youth to generate income.

The past decade has seen significant growth of the motorcycle courier business in Kenya and especially in Nairobi. The demand for courier services has been embraced given its efficiency and capacity to save time for consumers. Mobile technology has further propelled the sector with various innovations that have disrupted the courier business, providing efficient platforms to access independent couriers.

The Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya (MAAK) also estimates that there are about 600,000 commercial motorcycles currently operating in Kenya. This number communicates the magnitude of this business and its impact on the country’s economy. It therefore behooves the regulators to craft appropriate laws and regulations to manage the sector so as to mitigate the rising cases of accidents.

Appropriate public private partnerships are one sure way that can help avert this saddening trend. This will ensure that both the scale of the government's investment and the efficiency of the private sector’s input are all channeled towards solving this problem.

Corporates and large organizations are best placed to spearhead initiatives, programmes and campaigns that will help change the situation. Gladly this is happening. The government, through NTSA, has put in place guidelines and is enforcing steps to help combat this scourge. Road safety campaigns have today remained a critical component in fighting danger on the roads.

Spanish delivery firm Glovo, which utilizes an app to link customers with independent couriers, partnered with the National Transport and Safety Authority in a move to educate these couriers on the best practices around road safety, and also to encourage them to observe road safety while delivering its products. The partnership further articulated the need for every rider to adopt safer behaviour as a matter of habit in order to avert bodaboda related accidents.

It is through such partnerships that we can drive towards ensuring we reduce the number of road accidents and that our roads are safe. The private sector can initiate internal processes to buttress the governments’ greater agenda of attaining safety in our roads.

Legislation alone is not enough, we need to walk through the fine print of the same and realize the need and importance of instilling discipline within our own internal mechanisms so that we are all aligned towards our goals and true to the cause of realizing safer roads for all.

This move calls on every stakeholder involved or affected to step up and support in whatever way they can. Government, private sector, civil societies and all other parties have a stake in this. Government is playing its part but they can only do so much and effectuating this by themselves will continue to be a mirage that will forever evade us if we do not make this a collective responsibility.

Through proper and effective collaborations and partnerships we can create structures, initiate campaigns and drive programmes to bolster the government’s agenda of road safety and provide alternative measures of supporting the same.

Public private partnerships have worked in other sectors. We can leverage on this to spur road safety and create a world benchmark for other countries to learn from Kenya. It is fundamentally critical that we support this so that we can safeguard the potential of this sector thus support our economy.

The writer, William Benthall, is the Glovo General Manager for Kenya.

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