This week we mark the UN Road Safety Week, with leadership being the theme. Cue the irony. Well, it’s not the UN’s fault it picked a theme unbeknown that Kenyan politicians and civil servants run off children on the right side of the road while speeding on the wrong side of road. It is therefore no surprise road accidents are the leading cause of death among children.
The theme calls for the ministries of Transport, Health, Interior and others to be leaders for road safety by creating a national lead agency, developing and funding a national road safety strategy, and monitoring and evaluating road safety interventions.
Hang on a minute, we might be ahead of our time here, National Transport And Safety Authority anyone? I cannot fathom NTSA taking the lead in monitoring and evaluating road safety considering the President doesn’t trust them and stripped them of their authority last year. NTSA was moved from the Ministry of Transport to Ministry of Interior. Does this signal a change in our roads with an implemented road safety strategy?
Back to the theme, the government should also raise awareness on road safety and generate support from the public through mass media campaigns. You have got to laugh! How about the government starts an internal campaign for its officials to drive in the right lane and sit in traffic like everyone else?
The UN further called on parliamentarians to lead in the adoption of road safety policies and laws that respond to the needs of their constituents. As if! MPs are only responding to two things, 2022 and self-service. It is more likely an MP would advocate for a ‘Government Official Lane’, than care for the death and serious injuries sustained by their people.
If they cared, we would have bus lanes, cycling lanes, rail guards, and policies ensuring roads are constantly maintained. But alas, road safety has been left to parents and teachers with MPs assuming no duty of care other than the need for speed.
The UN went on to recommend that MPs ensure adequate funding for road safety through a road safety budget or a portion of taxes go to a road safety fund. As it stands we cannot trust our MPs with the national budget seeing as though they screwed us over with the VAT on petroleum products. Adding another budget line that we cannot guarantee its use is too much to ask from Kenyans. We are also up to our eyeballs in taxes, including the housing levy fund. How about the government reduces its budget for V8s, and reassigns it to road safety?
County governments have not been left out either. Your call to action is to make road safety a priority, not allocating resources to peace keeping missions to our neighbours much as we sympathise with their plight. Make your counties liveable by reducing speed limits around areas such as schools or residences. Above all, promote affordable, accessible and sustainable transport. That reminds me, wasn’t the bus rapid transport system due to be launched in February this year? Or did the launch happen and we missed it?
Road safety has not been of great concern in this country. It often comes up as a dire issue after consecutive road accidents with multiple lives lost.
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