The design of Public Service Vehicles (PSV) and how it causes deaths in case of an accident came into sharp focus three years ago when a bus was reduced to scrap after it crashed in Ntulele, Narok County, killing 41 passengers and injuring 33 others.
The roof of the bus was completely ripped off, in the August 20, 2013 crash, exposing victims to more danger as the vehicle rolled.
While more focus was on the strength of the roof and body, an area of concern that was not addressed is emergency exits for passengers in case of a crash.
There are as many buses as 14-seater matatus plying routes across the country and most are driven at high speed. When they are involved in crashes with other vehicles, they often topple over or roll.
A spot check on these buses show the windows are too small for an average adult to escape through in case of a crash. There are no emergency exits and those that are marked have no latches with which to open with.
Ms Stephanie Aketch, the Road Safety Project Manager at Handicap International said public service vehicle lack safety measures and are mostly designed to carry as many passengers as possible.
She said in case of a crash and the door is unable to open, the passengers will be at the mercy of good Samaritans.
“The back windows are usually marked as emergency exits, but they have not been designed to open. If they are meant to be broken, then the tool to break them is not provided,” she said.
“If you drive or walk past a crash scene you can witness the mangled wreck that shows poor quality building materials for public service vehicles. Standards would help save lives and reduce injuries,” she said.
According to National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) Director General Francis Meja, the body of passenger vehicles should be constructed such that they do not collapse in case of a crash.
“People get more injuries in accidents because there are those who take shortcuts and fail to adhere to body building standards for public service vehicles,” he told Nation Newsplex.
He said the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has come up with new standards that all manufactures of passenger vehicles will be required to meet.
“These measures include having rolling bars instead of many pieces of metals joined together. The standard also include size of windows and emergency exits,” he said.
Kebs Managing Director Mr Charles Ongwae said the new standards were published this year and all manufacturers will be expected to comply by March 2017, adding that NTSA would give an exact date.
He said the passenger vehicles body building standards are reviewed every five years, with the first one being in 2005 then 2010 but they were reviewed in 2014 following the Ntulele crash.