Coastweek -- In
the time that the National Transport Safety Authority or NTSA
has been “off” the road in terms of enforcement, we seem to have
settled back into the normal rhythm of life with the boys in
blue now firmly back in charge and the NTSA vehicles now not as
feared as they were almost a year ago,
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
What has changed
The NTSA had
arresting and prosecutorial powers because they had some of the
traffic police seconded to the unit.
They had invested in
some sophisticated equipment and managed to bring back the
breathalysers after a short hiatus when the legality of the
instruments had been challenged and the challenger won.
The agency went back
to the drawing board and was then able to change the rules and
bring in an acceptable model of the instrument whose results
could stand in a court of law.
The agency also had
sufficient vehicles to show their presence in many parts of the
country and they were mobile enough to move from one spot to
another in pursuit of miscreant drivers.
This mobility made
it look like there were many officers in the agency making the
seem almost omnipresent across the whole country.
Perhaps the one
thing that lost them their active role was their penchant for
hot pursuit of traffic offenders.
They started doing
this when drivers began to ignore the signal to stop in the hope
that the NTSA was as impotent as the traffic police who waved
people down and when one sped away they would gesticulate wildly
but would never mount a chase since they did not have the
appropriate equipment and presence of mind to set themselves up
in that manner.
accidents occurred ostensibly because the NTSA enforcement team
was in hot pursuit of buses and articulated heavy goods vehicles
that had ignored the instructions to stop.
The drivers, who
were not used to being pursued by enforcement agencies, panicked
when they saw the green, white and yellow vehicles of the agency
in their rear mirrors.
Not knowing what to
do their reaction was that of flight rather than fight and in
the process of flight ended up either overturning or losing
control of their vehicles and getting involved in horrendous
accidents or they would undertake dangerous overtaking
manoeuvres and end up in accidents.
In the year since
the NTSA was removed from the roads, the mayhem as we know it on
the roads resurfaced as the normal traffic police resumed their
beat with all its attendant warts and sores.
Clips are again
being exchanged on social media showing portly policemen and
women being chased by undercover anti-corruption officials who
had been trailing them or had them under surveillance for
In some instances,
drivers have installed their own dashboard cams and some also
have body cams which they use to record the excesses of the boys
in blue and then share on social media as well as with the
leadership of the police force.
Recently I was
driving to the airport in Nairobi very early one Saturday
morning to catch a flight back to Mombasa when I came across
slow moving traffic on Uhuru Highway.
At that hour one is
more likely expecting to find a car stranded on top of a
roundabout or even worse as a mangled wreckage having had an
altercation either with another vehicle or with the hardware on
This is the drunk
drivers’ hour and even those driving, like myself on that day,
have to be extra careful in case they become fodder for drunk
drivers intent on hitting any object that comes in their way as
they navigate the city’s streets to get home or to their next
However, when I got
to the head of the queue, I found that it was actually caused by
a traffic police road block.
They were busy
checking every car and when it came to my turn, the cop asked me
to open the window and he then thrust his head into the car.
A few heavy deep,
heavy breaths later he asked whether I had had any drink.
I confidently told
him no as in fact I had not imbibed any alcoholic beverage for
He asked again and I
gave him the same answer.
He asked a third
time and added whether I would be happy to take a breathalyser
test to prove that I had not taken any alcohol.
I replied in the
He warned me of my
rights under the law and then told me to wait as he turned away
towards the waiting vehicle.
After walking a few
steps, he came back and told me to proceed and this time with a
wide smile on his face!
It would seem, from
this encounter that they are now back in full force with all the
technology that was handed to them by the NTSA.
Their approach when
they stop you is also markedly different from before.
At that time, one
was stopped and asked immediately to take a breathalyser test.
I consider that this
approach is a better way of handling drivers and also one that
means that one could easily incriminate themselves during the
questioning process making it likely that one will be hit by a
double whammy in court should they have been over the limit and
tried to call the cop’s bluff.
So, drivers on the
road in Kenya and especially in the built-up areas or on busy
trunk roads, where the pickings are easier, should now be
We have different
breed of cop on traffic duty and with the horrendous coloured
uniform that they are about to start donning, we could be faced
with interesting times as a new relationship between the typical
Kenyan driver (who drives a defective vehicle, is a defective
driver themselves or have decided to make themselves defective
through contamination) and the boys in the ungodly blue
In order to stay out
of their paws or maws, it is up to us as drivers to up our game
and make the roads a safer place instead of playing cat and
mouse with the boys in blue.
As Kachumbari says,
Tom and Jerry should remain in the Disney cartoon world and not
take residence on our roads!
MOST RECENT ARTICLES
FROM TETI KAMUGUNDA
Driver’s Worst Nightmare - Parking In Restricted
Space With A Queue Of Hooting ‘Know Nothings’
Parking Dilemna: When The Lady Driver Decided
To Go Ahead With What She Had Been Avoiding!
‘Safeboda’ From Uganda Has Been Recently
Launched In Kenya After Very Successful Trial
Yes, Green Cities Need Trees And Plants
But Watch Out What Happens With Roots
The Law Of Unintended Consequences And
Unexpected Paternity In A Foreign Country!
Our Policy Heads Need To Fully Consider The
Human Cost to Continuing Coast Demolitions
Corruption: Only Time Will Tell Who
The True Sons Of This Nation Are?
An Unlucky Visitor Caught Up In The CBD, Hard To Find A Toilet
Business of Public Lavatories leaving a bad smell in the air
We Need A Radical Changes To How We Manage The Important
We Need To Completely Re-Examine How
We Manage Our Public Transport
‘Boda Boda’s Done Right Could Be An
Important Carriage System
Anarchy Is Never Solution To The Very
Real Danger From Massing
Gazzillions - There Was Probably Some 100 Plus Million Shillings Involved Here
Where To Park Cattle, Horses, Donkeys,
Yaks, Llamas, And So Forth ...
Most Drivers Treat Matatus With Caution
And Daring Matatu Drivers Love This!
Even Seemingly Difficult
Interventions Can Often Reap Welcome Results
Agencies Who Manage Disaster Need To Seriously
Review Both Operations
Motorists Must Face Up To Dangers Of Submerged
Flooding: The Drainage Is Clogged -
Most Have Not Been Cleaned For Years!
Creative Painters Have Turned Kenya
Vehicle Art Into A Sophisticated Industry
Most Of The Coastal Tribe Of Matatu Is
Of The 14 Seater Body Type
Matatu Apps. No Longer Act As Exhaust
SACCOs were seen as a first step in
getting sanity back
In Western: Matatus
Driven Mainly By Function
Just Focussing On
Enforcing Existing Laws For Six Months - Major Change?
My Adventure In A
Busia Matatu On its
Way To ‘Kisumu International’ Airport!
Some One Hundred
Plus Officers Taking Bribes Were ‘Sacked’
Harambee Is Always About Raising Money
Visitors Marvel At
The Cleanliness Of Kigali City and even over Rwanda
Police Appear To
Recognise Motoring Novices Breaking The Law!
Kenyan Traffic Bribes:
System Should Begin To Operate Smoothly
Road accidents cost us three hundred billion Kenyan
Authorities Should All Jump In To Solve Driving Woes In This
Drivers Who Fail To Remove Road Rubbish Once Vehicle Is
Examination Methods Now Used To Teach Driving Needs an
Most Sane Drivers Fear Every Time A PSV Appears Near Their
Attempt To Level Playing Field During Political Campaigns
Kenya Bus Service Went Bust Due Onslaught Of The Matatu