The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA)
got a firm rap on the knuckles from the nation’s leader when
they were removed from the compliance role.
How this will work is still to be seen but it is further
proof of the lack of an approved and coordinated national effort
to reduce carnage on our roads.
the NTSA failed in its mandate?
Trolling through their website the first thing I came across
was their view of the mandate they have been given by law – and
reproduced verbatim it reads "The National Transport and
Safety Authority was established through an Act of Parliament;
Act Number 33 on 26th October 2012.
The objective of forming the Authority was to harmonize
the operations of the key road transport departments and help in
effectively managing the road transport sub-sector and
minimizing loss of lives through road crashes".
The key phrase that jumped out was the role in "help in
effectively managing the road transport sub sector".
Put simply, it means they bring all the government agencies
that are involved in road transport (in whatever way) round a
table and ensure that their actions are aligned towards common
Once this has been agreed, they then "manage" all the
operators in the sub sector – including the government agencies
– to achieve the agreed goals.
In the reality of the Kenya of today, this mandate will not
The mentality of our governmental agencies and departments is
still very strongly one of protecting one’s turf and gathering
more in order to improve one’s position in the pecking order.
Would the Police Service agree to be convened by the NTSA on
matters road transport?
Would the Kenya Roads Board?
Would the various Highways and Roads Authorities?
Would the County Governments and their parallel bureaucracy?
Would the Ministry of Health?
I don’t think so.
Each of these has a mandate given by law and the kind of
speak we get in Kenya all the time is that each agency will
gravitate back to barking about their legal mandate in the event
that they feel that any other agency is encroaching on what they
are supposed to deliver – even by simply saying come to a
So back to the first question, has the NTSA failed in its
The answer is a resounding YES.
More importantly, can it really fulfil its mandate?
The answer is a resounding NO.
For this year, there needs to be a sober review of the way
our whole road transport environment is organised – in the
widest sense – with a view to rejigging it to come up with a
framework that will place the responsibility and authority for
all matters road transport in one place - the NTSA.
The way the mandate of the NTSA is structured in law should
be reviewed and written in such a way that it will have a full
mandate across the full spectrum of road transport activities -
users, infrastructure, laws, regulations, codes, compliance and
It would also be right to have some prosecutorial capability.
Once the mandate has been clarified and entrenched in law, it
is then imperative that it is staffed by the best brains that
can be found.
In the formative stages, it is necessary that we do not limit
ourselves with the requirement that they have to be from Kenya.
Mongolians and Mozambicans should be equally welcome if they
happen to be the best that we can afford for the job.
Selection should be stringent and without the typical
political interference that we have when trying to staff an
agency with people who will be subservient to their appointing
The people who are appointed should be left to do what is
best for Kenya and Kenyans in the road transport sector.
This will require balancing the cultural and social quirks of
the nation with the requirements of having a safe and working
road transport system in Kenya.
The key thing for me this year is that the road transport
sector must be transformed and transformed drastically so that
we get some sanity and order back on the roads.
It is only by doing this that we will reduce the carnage that
we continue to see on the roads.
The material cost of road accidents, according to the NTSA,
is estimated at three hundred billion Kenya shillings per annum.
An average of three thousand lives are lost each year.
The material cost is almost six per cent of the GDP of Kenya!
(Compare this with corruption which comes in at eight per
cent of GDP).
This is expensive for the country and it therefore requires
some serious investment as the payback is very, very attractive.
The mental cost of road accidents cannot be measured.
The grief of losing ones’ kith and kin is beyond value.
The health burden, loss of bread winners, disabilities and
long term psychological effects cannot be quantified.
These factors are quickly forgotten when talking about road
transport accidents and their impact.
After the photos and public noise, those affected have to
live with the post event reality and the public very quickly
forget about this as they pursue the next newsworthy item.
So, in typical knee jerk fashion that happens in Kenya, the
NTSA has had their wings clipped and night driving banned for
buses due to the carnage in December of last year.
Will this action make any change?
My measured response to this is – no chance.
We have not addressed the root causes and until this is done
and proper and sustained action is put in place, the powder keg
is still primed and we can expect more horrendous road crashes.
As Kachumbari says, we need drastic change and sustained
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