As we settle back to our work flow, in this new year. I can’t help but think of the circus that occurred during my transit to the village for the holidays.
- Drivers on phone or operating vehicle radio most of the time
One day as I was traveling from the village back to the city and was privileged to seat next to the driver of transline shuttle. For the first 4 hours, the driver was on phone more than all the passengers combined. He was either making a call, receiving a call, texting or reading a text message. While off his phone, the focus shifted to either changing radio channels, trying to search music from his phone and back to phone calls. It was a concern for me and decided to post it on Facebook and reactions received was that this was not something unique to that particular driver but a problem with shuttle drivers. A week later, I decided to use Guardian shuttle to Kisumu and it was the same trend. Distraction is a major cause of accidents on our roads.
- Drivers hitting the target
As Christmas drew close, demand on transport increased and drivers got trapped into making money without considering the regulations. For instance, one driver making unprecedented 900k within 24 hours with most of them making those trips from 19th to 24th December and the same will be expected in January as the same people will be rushing back to report to work. How? A driver would start the trip by 6am in Nairobi to Kisii (300km) and leave Kisii by 2pm for Nairobi and finally have the last trip back to Kisii. That same driver will leave Kisii very early even with five passengers because filling a shuttle then was not possible if they had to make the trips and there was no waiting in Nairobi as passengers were already waiting, as one driver that I spoke to mentioned. Fatigue is among the causes of accidents regularly mentioned by the police. SACCOs can regulate just how many trips a driver can make.
- Police mounting roadblocks
Do they even serve their purpose? Driver’s comradeship demanded that they informed their colleagues if there were roadblocks mounted and therefore some would change route or reduce speed for those who were over speeding. More inspiring was the fact that motorists have devised an online application updated by drivers on roadblocks to inform the road users and therefore they are able to plan accordingly whether to reduce speed or change route. Therefore, police must now embrace use of technology, invest on working their relationship with the public and invest in intelligent policing. Additionally, these very roadblocks are cash cows for the police. For instance, from Kisii to Oyugis is a distance of 25k with 5 roadblocks. All 14 seater public transport vehicles (matatus) carried more than twenty passengers with introduction of a temporary board joining right and left seats to accommodate additional passengers, locally known as ‘sambaza’ while others hanging on the door. All of them are stopped by the police and left to proceed after hefty greetings between police and the conductor or a simple salute as conductor drops Ksh 50 shillings note. According to one conductor, the police will demand for money whether you have 14 or 30 passengers and their portion is Ksh 50. So you better carry more to take care of their cost otherwise the vehicle will make nothing. If you don’t give then you will forever battle cases in court which is unnecessary.
- Not reaching the destination one paid for
Oversea bus made it a routine to drop people destined to Katito in Oyugis until one day local rights activist aka boda boda teamed up and forced them to complete the journey. Passengers were returned back into the bus and the bus forced to complete the journey or face the music, they complied. Passengers from the village to Nairobi were not spared either, people with luggage which could have easily been carried by bus freely were being charged or forced to send them as a parcel hence introducing another inconvenience of collecting them a day after. What if items were perishable and could easily go bad?
What did you notice on the roads during the holiday season?
Written by Ken Ogembo – Program Manager at Siasa Place