Con­flict of in­ter­est fu­elling death on roads

Business Daily (Kenya) - - IDEAS & DEBATE - JENNY LUESBY is a jour­nal­ist and en­tre­pre­neur

As our mata­tus po­si­tion them­selves as lux­ury travel, rid­ing high on the fuel levy to raise fares com­pre­hen­sively, one thing we can be sure of is that they won’t be giv­ing us a bet­ter ride: be­cause the law just isn’t in place to as­sure that. For sure, over­lap­ping is il­le­gal. Shoddy seat belts, roar­ing mu­sic, in­com­pe­tent driv­ers: we have all the ground­work of ba­sic laws to pre­vent th­ese me­naces and as­sure some mod­icum of safety in road be­hav­iour, and at least some in ve­hi­cle main­te­nance and con­duct. But where we fall down is in the gaps in our rules that make the break­ing of the rules easy, en­demic, and even blessed. For in mak­ing our laws, some­thing in us pulls us back from cre­at­ing rules that are ‘ap­pro­pri­ate’ to the ex­act prob­lems and cir­cum­stances that we have.for sure, it isn’t hard to set speed lim­its or make a law say­ing over­lap­ping is il­le­gal. But we really need to be re­al­is­tic about where our weak­ness is in en­forc­ing those laws. And our road laws are en­forced by our trans­port po­lice - once again, ex­clu­sively, on the with­drawal of Na­tional Trans­port and Safety Author­ity (NTSA) o cers from the roads, and its han­dover last month of Sh165m of road safety en­force­ment equip­ment. So now our trans­port po­lice are bet­ter equipped with road speed mon­i­tors and li­cence read­ers, and back to be­ing the only con­trol on those pesky matatu rule-break­ers.but I’m go­ing to let you in on a shock­ing se­cret. Maybe we’re not sup­posed to men­tion this in pub­lic de­bate or the news­pa­pers, but our trans­port po­lice are cor­rupt.i’m ter­ri­bly sorry to bring those tid­ings, and I trust it isn’t just some freak of fate of my own to have borne wit­ness to so many trans­port po­lice e orts at bribery. Maybe, in fact, a small lm-set bub­ble has been cre­ated around my own movement, which, like some Tru­man Show sce­nario has seen me wit­ness and party to count­less staged, fake and acted po­lice cor­rup­tion scenes, none of which were gen­uine. But I’m go­ing to go with the ev­i­dence of my own eyes on this one and say if there is any cit­i­zen in Kenya who isn’t aware that our trans­port po­lice are cor­rupt, they must never go out­doors. So, we have laws. And the (sole) enforcers are cor­rupt. Those are our cir­cum­stances. Now let’s add a lit­tle dash of ex­tra spice to rev up the num­ber of deaths caused by our road ve­hi­cles – be­cause here we are with an­other 1,859 peo­ple killed on our roads from Jan­uary to mid-au­gust. That’s, by now, 2000 more fam­i­lies griev­ing the un­timely and tragic loss of one of their own to our road car­nage. And of those deaths, in our over­lap­ping fun park, a full 38 per cent of those mur­dered were pedes­tri­ans, be­cause our matatu driv­ers really don’t care, as such, about where the road ends, or where the walk ways be­gin. And here’s the thing – why should they? Be­cause very many of our mata­tus are owned by trans­port po­lice. So, if the trans­port po­lice are the sole enforcers, and cor­rupt, there’s the magic ex­tra: let the ma­jor­ity of our pub­lic trans­port also be owned by the same trans­port po­lice – and all ac­count­abil­ity is thereby gone. The laws be­come point­less. The deaths rise.maybe it’s good for the pri­vate hos­pi­tal in­dus­try, the fu­neral in­dus­try, keeps pop­u­la­tion lev­els down a bit. Or maybe there is some other good rea­son why we would even think of let­ting trans­port po­lice own mata­tus. I’ll pre­sume, in fact, there is some fan­tas­tic rea­son for let­ting the con­trolled be the con­trollers, and the enforcers be the very same peo­ple as the en­forced against - and that some kind trans­port po­lice will ex­plain to me the big bonus for all the mur­dered in that par­tic­u­lar seem­ing con ict of in­ter­ests. Or maybe our par­lia­ment could ban trans­port po­lice from own­ing our pub­lic ser­vice ve­hi­cles? But what­ever. As they think t. And on to the thou­sands more fu­ner­als.

1,859 peope were killed on our roads from Jan­uary to mid-au­gust.”

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