The Kenya Urban Roads Authority(KURA) in liaison with the Traffic Police Department has embarked on a Road Safety Awareness Campaign targeting motorists and other road users in Nyanza and Western Kenya. The Campaign launched in Kisumu on 7th February, 2013 was extended to Kakamega on 11th February, 2013 and Busia on 13th February, 2013.
It was a sustained effort to reduce the number of deaths on Kenyan Roads and seeks to promote responsible and safe road use. The campaign is theme “Okoa Maisha, Epuka Ajali” (save lives, avoid accidents!) is a concerted public awareness campaign aimed at influencing behavioral change on the part of all road users.
The Traffic Police revealed shocking statistics that show that over 420 people had perished in the first 40 days of the year ending 10th February, 2013. According Police Superintendent Mr. Ronald Munene of Traffic Police Headquarters, majority (173) are pedestrians followed by passengers (151). This figure is so high considering that over 3,141 people lost their lives in 2012 alone. He said an average of 11 lives are lost every day in our roads with many more maimed and affected.
‘Road carnage should be declared a national disaster and more efforts and resources pulled to counter this issue. Politicians ought to put more emphasis in handling the menace’, Mr. Hilary Mibei, Assistant County Commissioner, Kakamega Central said during the launch of the Road Safety awareness in Kakamega. Mr. Mibei who was the Chief Guest said Kenyans must change their behavior and attitude as no amount of policing can change the situation. He decried the behaviour espoused by citizens who know their rights but blatantly risk their lives on the road.
The Traffic Enforcement Officers who were also involved in the campaign attributed the fatalities to speeding, obstruction, overloading, fatigue due to long driving hours, careless overtaking, drunk driving and vandalism of road infrastructure among other factors. Stakeholders in the meeting complained about narrow and failing road surfaces as contributory factors. It was also observed that majority of roads in Western Kenya lacked shoulders and that PSV have nowhere designed for dropping and picking of passengers.
The government’s intention is to bring into operation and enforce the new traffic regulations that are geared towards restoring sanity on our roads. According to Provincial Traffic Enforcement Officer in Kakamega Mrs. Rodah Kinanu, public transport operators use additional and unconventional seats (locally known as sambaza) in the PSV leading to overloading. She appealed to the public to cooperate and follow the set out traffic rules.
Speaking on behalf of the Boda Boda operators in Kakamega, Mr. Anthony Jalango said its organisation would, jointly work with the government, sensitize stakeholders on the need to observe traffic rules. The Town clerk, Municipal Council of Kakamega, Mr. Anthony Mkabue, who was in the launch, pledged to improve the town for better safety for all.
Two Board Directors, Mr. Dickson Mbugua and Mrs. Mary Gesare and Eng. Silas Kinoti, General Manager, Planning and Environment led KURA team. The campaign is part of a wider and continuous campaign KURA has been undertaking as a mandate and also as a social community responsibility.