24 January 2016

Kenya: Use Technology to Restore Sanity in Public Transport


Today, the National Transport and Safety Authority will be launching a crackdown against public service vehicles that have failed to comply with regulations, including on noise pollution.

Whereas any move to bring order and sanity in the matatu industry is always welcome, crackdowns should not have to wait until matters grow into crises.

Matatus that have been flouting the law in the past should have been impounded at the time, their owners fined and the offending gadgets, such as blaring horns and noisy exhaust pipes removed on a case to case basis.

Because this did not happen, the problem has become endemic, necessitating the crackdown.

Although it is hoped that matatus with offensive graffiti, tinted windows and noisy exhaust pipes will be compelled to comply with the regulations expected to instil discipline in matatu drivers and make roads safer, there is need to invest more in technology-assisted policing to ensure that they do not regress.


And besides targeting the drivers, the law should also place sanctions against the owners of such vehicles, including locking them out of future licensing based on their past record.

As it is, there are too many public service vehicles on the roads and not enough officers to police them.

However, investing in cameras that will capture offenders in real time and make it possible for the drivers and owners to be penalised, will go a long way in making roads safer by increasing the levels of compliance.

And since this critical sector of the economy has been unable to regulate itself, counties should be compelled to come up with long-term public transport plans that will gradually reduce the number of privately-owned public transport vehicles on the road.

That way, the cut-throat competition that currently defines the sector will be moderated.


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