Friday, July 31, 2009

Road Problems..Simple Solution

I was watching Louis Otieno Live last week when they were in Mombasa talking about roads. The guests were the Mombasa Council town clerk (I forget his name), the roads assistant minister, Dr Machage, the Whitesands Hotel General Manager (I believe his name is Mohammed Hersi).

Truck drivers, truck owners and matatu drivers were also represented in the audience. As you'd expected, there was alot of back and forth about whose fault the poor road network is: Government blamed truckers (overloading) and truck drivers (agreeing to drive overloaded trucks), truckers blamed government (constructing poor roads), truck drivers blamed truck owners (threatening them with the sack if they refuse to drive overloaded vehicles) and government (cracking down on drivers who have no option but to drive trucks for fear of losing their jobs) etc etc.

The Whitesands GM, Mohammed Hersi then suggested something that made lots of sense to me:
Effecting a system of bans for vehicles that flout rules. Very simple and I think it would be very effective. It would work thus:
If a truck is found overloading or a matatu is found flouting rules, the vehicle is taken of the road for a given amount of time...say a week, two weeks, a month or whatever.
His argument was that as soon as it becomes clear that vehicles caught flouting rules are going to suffer a significant loss of income, owners and drivers will take a more active interest in ensuring rules are followed. "Hit rulebreakers where it hurts..their pockets".

The more I think about it, the more I believe that we do need to take this sort of approach. It would shift some of the responsibility for ensuring comnpliance away from police and over to owners of vehicles and by extension, the people they employ to operate their vehicles.

For some reason, this idea appeals to me even more than heavy fines. It just seems simpler; easier to understand & easier to institute. I think the fact that this particular punishment requires no input from the vehicle owner makes it attractive. Whereas someone may lack the funds to pay a fine immediately, a ban is lost income.


  1. I think the solution is much easier than that. Sell your car and get into a matatu!

    The main problem is that Kenyan roads were not built for the amount of vehicles on them today. So many giant cars with only one person inside.

    If people could just change their attitude a bit and not having to show off their fancy cars every day the situation would improve a lot.

  2. I think your solution is one to the problem of congestion. That's another problem altogether; one that requires a more holistic solution than "just sell your car".

    We need a reliable, orderly, efficient public transport system first. Yes, status is a factor..but bigger than that is the fact that public transport at the moment sucks. Especially if you do not live right next to a main artery of the system.

  3. I vaguely recall hearing something about the Government considering one year bans for drivers who cause fatal accidents???? Or was that just someone's opinion? I really cant remember but that would be another idea to address the many unnecessary incidences of fatal bus accidents.

  4. City Girl,

    A one year ban for someone who causes a fatal accident? That's like a one year sex ban for someone who rapes a woman.

    If you cause a fatality through dangerous driving, nothing short of a stint in jail should be considered.

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