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Matatu drivers to get mental tests

Matatu drivers will soon have to see mental doctors before they can be allowed to continue operating.

This is a requirement under the incoming National Transport and Safety Authority transport regulations, now commonly known as Kamau rules after Transport Cabinet Secretary Joseph Kamau.

Each driver will be expected to present himself or herself to a psychiatrist as part of the authority’s effort to reduce road carnage, said NTSA boss Lee Kinyanjui.

“The regulations will also restore discipline among drivers and ensure all Kenyans have confidence in public transport sector,” Mr Kinyanjui said.

Once determined to be mentally fit, the drivers will also have to comply with the regulation that directs those handling 14-seater matatus must be aged between 22 and 60.

“Those driving 35-seaters and larger buses must be between 28 and 60 years old. Their retirement age will be 60 years,” said Mr Kinyanjui.

He made the announcement when he addressed journalists on Friday.

The regulations by the Ministry of Public Transport are set to take effect at a date yet to be announced by the ministry’s Cabinet Secretary.

According to the Matatu Owners Association, the county has about 4,000 matatus operating in different routes.

A crisis like that experienced during the implementation of the Michuki rules close to ten years ago looms, unless the NTSA puts in place a mechanism that will ensure that the operation of matatus is not affected during the transition period.

Mentally fit

The low number of psychiatrists in the country is also expected to make the situation difficult.

The more than 4,000 matatu drivers will be expected to be checked and certified to be mentally fit by just about 20 psychiatrists.

The Africa Mental Health Foundation estimates that there are just about 80 psychiatrists in Kenya and a third of them are in Nairobi.

The foundation states that out of the number, just half are involved in clinical work on a population of about 3.8 million county residents.