Friday, January 22, 2010

Motor Vehicle Transfer - KRA

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you regarding the process in place for motor vehicle transfers. I undertook to process a transfer and the process was as follows:

1. Queue at counter 21 (or 22) to have application approved (This involves an officer leafing through documents provided to ensure they are in order then writing amount to be paid if they are so)

2. Queue at counter 23 to get an e-slip

3. Go to petrol station outside Times Towers to make 3 photocopies of the e-Slip

4. Go to NBK on 5th Floor of Times Towers to pay the transfer fee

5. Return to Petrol station to make a photocopy of the payment slip

6. Take documents back to counter 23 (no need to queue this time) and leave them with officer.

On Tuesday 19th January, the above process took me about one and a half hours to complete. I noted the following:

This is a 6- step process involving 3 different queues that could (and should!) be completed in one step, at one service window in 5 minutes. Due to the convoluted process in place, what should take 10, maybe 20 minutes (including queuing time) is stretched to take over an hour.

I would suggest any or all of the following measures be implemented to speed up the process to make it more efficient:

1. The approval and e-slip printing combined to one single step.

2. The e-slip is currently printed in landscape orientation in the middle of an A4 sheet. It probably takes up about half the paper in total. I suggest printing the same in portrait orientation and to reduce the size of the slip so that the same thing can be printed 3 (or 4) different times on the same page. This will allow customers to simply tear the different copies rather than have to leave the building altogether to get photocopies.

3. Payments can be done at the same time and place the documents are approved and e-slip printed. The current process turns the taxpayer into a defacto cash handler for KRA which is not efficient from a customer stand point.

If these steps were implemented, the process of lodging transfer documents would be much faster and easier for the taxpayer.

By creating efficient processes, KRA allows taxpayers to spend less time in queues and on fools errands and more time being productive. More productivity translates to higher earnings which in turn translates to more taxes being paid.

I thank you for your time.

Kind Regards

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Is This Progress?

Today, I made the bold decision to handle a motor vehicle transfer personally. I tend to be the type of person who tries to do everything personally at least once, just to have the experience of doing so and to know what goes on. I needed to be in town quite early so I figured that rather than send a messesnger, I would do this one myself.

The process is thus:

- Go to Counter 21 (or 22..don't remember which one) to get the application approved and be informed how much it will cost.

- Go to Counter 20 to get an e-slip printed out (this states the name of the seller, name and PIN details of new owner and the fee payable.

- Go get 3 copies of the e-slip. This is done at the NOCK petrol station beside Times Towers.

- Go to either the National Bank of Kenya (NBK) branch at Harambee Avenue or sub branch on 5th Floor of Times Towers to pay the fee. (I chose the latter)

- Make a copy of the deposit slip from NBK (at the NOCK petrol station).

- Drop the application back at Counter 20 Times Towers banking hall on the ground floor. (Thankfully you do not have to queue for this step, you just walk up to the counter and drop the application off).

In my opinion, a country (government) that has such a long, cumbersome process for such a simple transaction is just not serious about becoming developed.

That will strike some as an extreme statement but I think that the first step towards creating an enabling environment is to make the simple things....simple. Then tackle the complicated things. Times Towers banking hall (and numerous other government offices) are places where the simplest is turned into the most cumbersome and complicated.

Streamlining this process would require little to no money, just a real commitment to ensure that citizens get the best possible service. The presence of such cumbersome processes in 2010 points to a lack of this real commitment.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Overtake

Once again, more thoughts from my journey to/from Mombasa. This time: Overtaking.

The overtake maneuver on a single lane highway entails: Using the oncoming traffic lane to get past a slower moving vehicle(s) as quickly as possible, and in a manner that does not disrupt other road users (oncoming traffic & traffic going in your direction).

Now for most vehicles I have driven, the best way to do this (not scientific so please correct me where I am wrong) is to leave reasonable space between yourself and the slow moving vehicle you intend to overtake so as to ensure you can see round the vehicle(s), both to see if there is any traffic ahead of you (going in the same direction) or any traffic coming from the opposite direction (this includes oncoming traffic that is overtaking); then time your acceleration so that you carry enough momentum into the maneuver to overtake in the shortest possible time/distance. (You know your car, you know what pick it has, you know what speed it can manage etc etc..all these factors are in play every single time you overtake)

If there is oncoming traffic, leaving reasonable space between yourself and the vehicle you intend to overtake will allow you to see exactly how many vehicles are approaching and at what approximate speed (depending on the road layout obviously). In cases where the road gently curves left, it also allows you to look round the slow moving vehicle 'on the inside' to see what the situation is like ahead. In short, before you overtake, you must have a very clear picture of what lies ahead on both lanes within the approximate distance you will need to execute your overtake maneuver.

You must also have an idea of what vehicles are behind you and what their driving mannerisms might be (because you have been checking your rear view mirror and wing mirrors frequently..they aren't just for checking if your lips have spit lines!)

If there is a queue of vehicles ahead of you, courtesy dictates that you overtake the slowest moving vehicle in order..i.e. first goes first, last goes last, then overtake the next slowest and so on. If you happen to be driving a twin turbo V8 (i.e. if you are the fastest vehicle), don't rush out, let those ahead go first, you'll still catch and pass them later. Only pull out ahead of them if you see a space you can exploit that they may be unable to..but keep in mind that one of your principle aims is not to disrupt traffic in any way. If oncoming traffic has to even dab their brakes because of you, you have have executed your maneuver poorly.

The most common mistake that I see made is people who drive too close to the vehicle they intend to overtake; often a bus, lorry or even a smaller car with tinted windows (which limits line of sight through the car) then keep 'poking out' to 'peep' and see what oncoming traffic looks like. Doing this means that you not only do not develop a clear mental picture of the whole situation before you overtake, but you also do not leave yourself enough room to accelerate into the maneuver. Hence when you do pull out, it will take longer to overtake than it would have otherwise...leaving you in a more dangerous position than you need to be in. Too many times I saw people pull out, start accelerating late and find their vehicle did not have the momentum to make it past in time...and end up aborting their maneuver, wasting time and slowing traffic in cases when had they have done it right, 2 or even 3 cars could have comfortable overtaken the slow vehicle(s).

There are also those who overtake at blind corners or hills but these are just irresponsible people. I cringe anytime I see a fellow with his car full of family doing this. It is toying with life and you should never ever do it.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not scientific, these are just some of the methods I use as I believe they are they are the safest way to overtake (and quickest too!)..irrespective of how big or powerful your engine might be.

Let me know your thoughts and methods but whatever you do, always drive safe and responsibly and do not take unnecessary chances. The one time chance goes against you may be the last time it goes against you.

Traffic Mayhem on 5th January

Yesterday, I needed to go to Westlands then to Woodley and back to Westlands. Traffic around the city was heavily congested..very much so in the Westlands area.

I believe two key factors contributed to this:

1. The matatu strike on Monday and Tuesday meant that virtually everyone who owned a car brought it out and used it for just about every trip they needed to make. (People often drive to work or to a parking lot then use public transport to commute into/out of town & run small errands)

2. The new years holiday fell on a weekend. As usual schools were opening on the first Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday of the year. Of significance this year is the fact that Monday 4th was also the first working day of the year. If the 1st is a Monday for example, schools would open on the 8th. Parents would have 2nd - 5th to do school shopping. This year, everyone rushed to do their school shopping on 4th and 5th January.

These two factors along with Kenyans' typical selfish driving habits combined to make traffic really bad all day on Monday and on Tuesday mid-morning and afternoon. However, the worst was to come on Tuesday evening.

HE the President returned to Nairobi from his annual holiday in Mombasa. Therefore, traffic had to be stopped to accommodate his motorcade. Now on the best of traffic days, the presidential motorcade causes a big disruption. On Tuesday evening, with traffic already very bad, the motorcade caused gridlock just about everywhere. It took me two and a half hours to get from The DO office on Waiyaki Way (by Safaricom Building) to Sarit Centre, a distance of maybe 2-3 kilometres.

Is this really acceptable? The president was flying into JKIA, the authorities knew what the traffic situation was. Would it have been so difficult to get a helicopter to ferry him from the airport to State House? Should this not now become standard procedure whenever possible for ferrying the president around town?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mombasa - Nairobi Highway

Happy New Year!

Drove down to Mombasa for new years. The new highway is almost all done now. There are still a couple of short diversions around Athi River but other than that, it is all new road.

Worryingly, on the drive back, I noticed that the stretches that were re-built first (between Mariakani and Voi) have started showing signs of developing potholes. There are actually two or three potholes already and certain stretches now have the tell-tale undulations (caused by lorries) that are a sure sign potholes are not far behind.


By the time the Nairobi - Machakos stretch is fully done, the Mombasa - Voi stretch will need repairs. And as we all know, the quality of patchwork repairs done on our roads forever compromises the quality of the roads.

I am sure the road cannot be more than 5-6 years old. Is this the lifespan of our roads? Was the road built to sufficiently high standard to accommodate the traffic it carries?

I do not think it is sustainable to invest so heavily in roads that start falling apart in less than 10 years. Real concerted effort needs to be placed in ensuring no overloaded vehicles use our roads and roads are built to last for 10 even 20 or 30 years.