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School buses too must follow rules

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Tony Ngare | July 12th 2015

In the past few weeks, Embakasi has been in the news for all the wrong reasons as far as transport matters are concerned.

First, it was the accident that saw Embassava Sacco, the main transport “company” for Embakasi banned by National Transport and Safety Authority over a road crash that involved Embassava Sacco and Forward Sacco buses.

The NTSA Director General maintained that the Embassava bus driver was to blame after he failed to obey traffic lights at the junction of Jogoo and Rabai roads.  Twenty-one  passengers in the Forward Sacco vehicle were injured in the June 18 incident.

The operations of Embassava Sacco were suspended until certain conditions were met, but the ban was lifted days later after NTSA met with matatu association after the latter’s threat to call a strike.

The NTSA had asked all passenger service operators to vet their drivers and ensure that anyone who is allowed to drive possesses the right level of skills, training and attitude.

On the day the ban was lifted, another tragic accident, that could have been avoided, occurred in Nyayo Estate when a school bus crushed to death the very pupil it had brought home from school.

The school transport vehicle that dropped and run over the kindergarten pupil outside his home is obviously a passenger service vehicle.

I have been patiently waiting for NTSA to swing into action as it had done in the case of Embassava Sacco bus, but unfortunately, it has not.

Ideally, NTSA needs to widen its view when it comes to what a passenger service vehicle is.

The technocrats at the authority are too busy fighting with matatu operators that they have forgotten their other responsibilities and seem to have no control over vehicles owned by school and other entities. It is no secret that many vehicles that belong to schools also flout traffic rules and some of the antics displayed by school bus drivers are scary.

I once blocked a school bus that was cruising down a lane, inside a gated community and gave my honest opinion to the driver. When I was done, the driver, in full view of the pupils, gave me the middle finger and slammed the gas pedal.

I called the concerned school to report the incident and the driver’s horrendous conduct. Several days and numerous calls later, upon insisting to talking to the principal or senior administrator at the school, I was taken round in circles and I gave up.

In my opinion, NTSA is so busy waylaying private vehicle drivers outside drinking dens that they have forgotten that the biggest victims of road accidents are actually pedestrians killed by speeding vehicles or careless driving.

The baby class pupil did not deserve to die, and could not have become a statistic if only NTSA had understood its mandate and widened its scope.

Twitter: @tonyngare

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