Road accidents have killed 1,200 in just three months, says NTSA

Wreckage of a bus involved in an accident along Ahero-Awasi Road on January 29, 2024. [Michael Mute, Standard]

Road accidents have killed 1,213 people in the past three months, data from the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) shows.

And pedestrians account for the largest number of fatalities at 445, followed by motorcyclists at 285 and passengers at 259.

According to the data captured between January and April 3, pillion (motorcycle) passengers came fourth at 103 followed by drivers (99) and pedal cyclists (24).

The deaths are an increase of 5.8 per cent from 1,146 during the same period last year.

The deaths have, however, increased following the latest accidents this week on the Kericho-Nakuru and Nakuru-Eldoret highways, where 15 people died.

Early this month, two people died and at least 10 were injured when a bus they were travelling in rammed a truck on the James Gichuru-Rironi highway.

Four others died on Sunday morning when a Kensliver company bus with 39 passengers overturned at the notorious Nithi bridge on the Meru-Nairobi highway.

On Friday, Roads, Transport and Public Works Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen said the government is in the process of returning NTSA officers on the roads.

He also mentioned the installation of digital speed cameras along the major highways to reduce accidents.

“Road accidents are a national catastrophe that we must address under an all-government, indeed all-public, approach,” said Murkomen.

“In the past 20 years, we have been losing an average of 3,800 people annually. Many of these accidents are attributed to reckless driving and lack of respect for pedestrians. Others are caused by overloading and drunken driving.”

To address the problem, CS said the ministry is working to finalise the introduction of instant fines. “Even as we intensify joint enforcement of traffic rules, technology will, in the long run, reduce the errant behaviour of road users,” he said.

Murkomen said telematics, starting with school transport, will ensure all-time monitoring because of dashboard cameras and other features.

“We are also reintroducing roadside drink-driving tests. The NTSA will also get more resources to carry out its mandate in collaboration with other government agencies and help police in enforcement,” he added.

Returning NTSA on the road will reverse former President Uhuru Kenyatta directive in 2018 that ordered their removal.

Murkomen said he had consultations with Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki and agreed on return of NTSA officers. NTSA was also conducting alcoblow tests to arrest drunk drivers.

“In this national conversation, faith-based groups are critical and we will be reaching out to them and other stakeholders,” he said.

In September 2020, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, with the ambitious target of preventing at least 50 per cent of traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.

World Health Organisation and the UN regional commissions, in cooperation with other partners in the UN, have developed Global Plan for the Decade of Action, which was released in October, 2021.

The NTSA has come up with a National Road Safety Action Plan 2023-2027 that targets a 50 per cent reduction in fatalities by 2030

The Global Plan aligns with the Stockholm Declaration, by emphasising the importance of a holistic approach to road safety, and calling on continued improvements in the design of roads and vehicles, enhancement of laws and law enforcement, and provision of timely, life-saving emergency care for the injured.

The Plan also reflects the Stockholm Declaration’s promotion of policies to promote walking, cycling and using public transport as healthy and environmentally sound modes of transport.

Progress made during the previous Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 has laid the foundation for accelerated action.

Among the achievements are inclusion of road safety on the global health and development agenda, broad dissemination of scientific guidance on what works, strengthening of partnerships and networks, and mobilization of resources.

This new Decade of Action provides an opportunity for harnessing the successes and lessons of previous years and building upon them to save more lives.