To save lives, transport rules must take effect
A transport crisis is expected for travellers as the government moves to enforce new regulations that require owners of matatus and buses to install digital speed governors amongst other regulations.
Most matatu owners, through their respective organisations, have urged the government to extend the April 1 deadline, but the question is, will they conform to the new rules?
These rules were communicated to the matatu owners in January and they have had three months within which they should have complied.
There should be no extension to implement these rules. The matatu owners should know better because the rules are meant to safeguard lives as opposed to the profits they champion.
It is, therefore, imperative that Kenyans, for once insist on using public service vehicles that have conformed to these regulations.
In this digital age, the PSV owners should be able to track vehicle performance in terms of speed and caution their drivers about speeding.
The fact is that speeding and non-roadworthy vehicles are killing innocent Kenyans. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 3,000 Kenyans lose their lives in road accidents every year, with close to one third of these deaths being passengers.
This makes Kenya one of the countries with the worst road safety records in the world.
On the other hand, even as the government moves to enforce these rules, the public inconvenience must not be limited to the bare minimum.
We have seen installers increasing the price threefold to make a killing at the expense of matatu owners. The government agency in charge should rein in the traders so that this doesn’t happen.
It is not fair for a few to hold others hostage because they have the advantage of supplying the kits. The agency should ensure that the matatu owners are able to buy these kits at the retail price of Sh18,000 as recommended.
We also expect some public service vehicles to suspend their operations as a protest to these rules.
At a time when schools are closing, the government should come up with mechanisms that will ensure these children do not get stranded as the rules take effect.
It should also rein in vehicles that have complied and will now take advantage and increase their fares. The rules are not about making obscene profits but ensuring that our public transport becomes safe for all.