It’s true, too many people are dying on our roads and we must do something about it. I lost a friend late last year to a road accident. He was a brilliant guy with a real and proper brain – the sort that would have invented something and he had a young family, but he was one of the many claimed by the many accidents on our roads last year. At this point I can imagine that you are expecting me to come out from behind the handkerchief and ask for tough laws and strong punishments to be implemented so that no other friend of mine may ever die again. I won’t, someone else already did that.
To make our roads safer, it is necessary to address the real problems. So allow me to paint the picture for you: Towards the end of Moi’s reign as president, things on the road were bad because roads were terrible and the police were corrupt. When Kibaki literally wheeled himself into power on a wheelchair, he read the best speech I’ve ever heard through a neck brace, saying that he’ll fix the roads so that even he, would never ever need the services of a neck brace again because there would be no road accidents. He fixed the roads but the police topped the corruption rankings yet again so lots of accidents continued to happen.
One of his henchmen was rattled by the alarming statistics and he introduced what is famously known as the Michuki laws and they were ever so simple – all public service vehicles would be required to drive a little slower, not overload and safety belts for everyone. In the first few months, there was a dramatic reduction in road accidents and people were very happy. The president was especially happy and he had the idea to appoint Michuki to oversee other things where he would hopefully make a similar impact but in truth, he made a complete hash of everything instead.
In the meantime, a man called Chirau Ali Makwere had been appointed to do the impossible task of sitting in an office and asking how good the Michuki laws were fairing. Instead he appeared on television denying that he owned matatus and that the increasing road accidents were the fault of drivers and not the police who once again had topped the corruption league table by an impressive margin.
Things got steadily worse until the two most unlikely men, Jakoyo Midiwo and Amos Kimunya, decided that too many Kenyans were dying and they needed to fix it by sponsoring a bill that proposed idiotically huge fines (naturally) for traffic offenders and expanding the mandate of policing the road not just to traffic policemen but to the entire police force. Basically any organized group with a name ending in police would have the mandate to erect some lanterns on the road at night. That was in November. So later at the end of the year, a man in spectacles appeared on Tv, shaking his head disapprovingly, as he awarded the police yet again, their customary end of year title.
After the election there was a lot of jubilation and posturing with shirts folded at the arms along promises of a brand new beginning. Soon a balding man, who had lost quite badly in an election, was appointed as chairman of the newly formed National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and he accepted the job with an unnatural zeal. He appeared on Tv, together with the Transport Cabinet Secretary and declared that in the year 2014, only 2,000 people would be allowed to die on the road instead of the normal 3,000 plus.
They asked some bureaucrats to think of some things to make this a reality and Government workers, being the model professionals they are, came up with a couple of suggestions: Banning of night buses and the introduction of atrociously low speed limits on all roads. All the suggestions were illegal of course, but they didn’t care because while a wily old judge searched his office for his wig before he could drag himself to the courtroom to hear what the hysterical Kenyans had brought before him, several weeks had passed and the numbers of people not dead were adding up. Good job NTSA!
I’ll leave it here today but I will be writing a second part to this article where I complete the history and suggest to the NTSA a concept they do not understand – goodwill. I will also solve police corruption once and for all through the re-introduction of public flogging, and it does not involve flogging of policemen as you might be imagining. No, really, I’ve solved it. Stay tuned.