Once again, the country has been thrown into mourning following the deadly bus crash that claimed at least 55 lives on the Londiani-Muhoroni road in the wee hours of Wednesday. The number is likely to rise and, by all counts, the accident stands out as one of the most horrific in recent months.
It is quite painful that the country continues to lose lives every so often through avoidable accidents. Road safety campaigns seem to have failed and we have resigned to fate. We cannot accept that fatalistic proposition. The police and the National Transport and Safety Authority, which are charged with keeping order on the roads, must take full responsibility for the endless carnage.
All indications point to the same causes of poor judgment and speeding. Possibly, the driver was tired and overstretched as he did the night shift. Unfortunately, after the crash, the NTSA was quick to report that the bus company had not been licensed to operate at night. Which brings to the fore the question: What became of regulation enforcement? Where was the NTSA all this time as the bus company — and, we believe, many more others — were flouting the rules? What about the police, who man the roadblocks?
Predictably, the NTSA and the police will start an aggressive campaign, ostensively to create order on the roads. But that only goes on for a few weeks and they go back to slumber until another disaster strikes.
PUBLIC SERVICE VEHICLES
Greed and indiscipline are the major causes of such gruesome deaths. Operators of public service vehicles are engaged in a rat race to make money and force drivers to do the near-impossible, with catastrophic effects. Yet this is abetted by the police and the NTSA officials, who, though responsible for enforcing controls and regulations, always look the other way as road rogues have a field day.
While we treasure free market principles, which extend to a 24-hour economy, the regulations on night travel ought to be tightened. The liberal view is that PSV operators have the liberty to do their business day and night if approved by the NTSA. But when the operators fail to play by the rules, then they must face sanctions. They must be penalised for their excesses.
Stiff action must be taken against the bus company, which has clearly flouted the rules. However, the police and NTSA must take their work seriously. Continuous enforcement of traffic rules and regulations is a must. They must avoid knee-jerk reactions.
The Kenya National Highways Authority must provide signs on all dangerous spots along the highways to warn drivers appropriately. We must not condone senseless deaths on our roads just because of poor driving and non-enforcement of rules.