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Let us make laws that we can implement and sustain.

02 Feb

Kenya is still ranked as a third world country. As much as We {Kenyans} don’t love or feel comfortable being referred as a 3nd world, we cannot escape this classification since it is not based on what we would wish’ but what we have done compared to other nations of the earth.
We may be building standard gauge railways and probably subways are on the way, Its true, these infrastructures will indeed; push us forward toward escaping the ratings, ease how we travel and communicate and make our country more attractive to other developed nations. But as it stands today we are still a 3nd world.
Our president is leading from the front and we all admire his confidence, we are encouraged by his determination to get us out of the woods, not only for us Kenyans but for Africa as a whole. His call for African solution for Africa’s problems is a pointer to finding lasting solutions to local problems in the continent and even here at home.
Since the Jubilee government come to power, law makers have been very busy making and amending laws. Almost every law in the constitution has been challenged, amended or changed; Media freedom, security, bills of rights, and” of course”  “Traffic act.”
I was among the invited participants to a discussion on the proposed amendments to section 42 of the traffic act {cap 403} this is an act of our traffic laws that deals with safety of children. The bill was tabled in parliament by honorable Member of Parliament for Laisami Joseph Kuton. The bill which is in its third reading in parliament and {according to Hon. Kuton} it will soon be passed to law if the president is okay with it.
The forum was organized by Kenya Alliance for Residents Association {KARA}; National Transport and Safety Authority {NTSA} and Columbia University center for urban Development Among other institutions. The speakers included the deputy Director of safety at NTSA Dr. Duncan kibogong; Institute of legislative affairs CEO Vincent Kimosop, center for sustainable urban development; Dr Jackie Kropp, the sponsor of the bill Hon. Joseph kuton and Kara director Dr. Henry … among others.
The amendments to this act seek to improve children’s safety within the boundaries of their learning institutions, and while on transit to and from schools and non school related activities. Majority of those in-attendances were very objective that this is the way to go. “When we were each asked what our individual expectations were, almost everyone including the media which was well represented was optimistic the bill should go through. On the other hand, I was a bit pessimistic.
I’ve heard it is said that; the devil is in the details.
Section 42 of the Traffic Act (hereinafter referred to as “the Principal Act”) is to be amended by inserting the following new subsections immediately after subsection (3)-

*(3A) A person shall not drive, or, being the owner or person in charge of a vehicle, cause or permit any other person to drive, any vehicle at a speed exceeding thirty kilometres per hour on any road within the boundaries of-
(a) A nursery, primary or secondary school;
(b) An institution where -children reside or normally access by children;
(c) A public playing ground which is normally accessed by children;
(d) An area used by children when crossing to and from school; or
(e) Any health facility.
A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine of 50.000 KES or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 months or both.

I don’t have a problem with the speed limit; what I fail to understand is why? The act only prescribes a penalty or punishment to drivers and not to the Authorities responsible for ensuring that all the supporting infrastructures are in place before the law takes effect?

For instance; the act mandates the highway Authority to; erect and maintain traffic signs as prescribed in the Act so as plainly to indicate to drivers entering or leaving such roads or areas referred to under subsection (3A) where the thirty kilometers per hour speed limit restriction begins and ends;
They are also responsible for; electing, constructing and maintaining speed limiting road design features such as speed bumps or rumble strips, and traffic circles on the roads referred to under subsection (3A) at the areas specifically designated for pedestrian crossing or on any road within a built up area or any section of a road where forward visibility is short.
The highway authority should also Ensure that; traffic routes in the vicinity of nursery, primary or secondary schools and those giving access to the schools are planned, designed, equipped and maintained with safety features such as wide pavements, footpaths, cycle-tracks, roadside barriers, pedestrian crossings and underpasses and footbridges with appropriate signs and markings.

The absence of any of the above infrastructures can lead to violation of the act. I believe the highway authority or NTSA for that matter should also be held responsible and charged in court if an accident occurs or even when the said law is violated where they have not complied.

The other proposed amendment to the Traffic act is in section 1058.
(1) A person or institution shall not designate or use a vehicle for transporting children to and from school or school or non-school related activity unless the vehicle meets the prescribed standards. It gives the Cabinet secretary the overall responsibility of setting the prescribed standards
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (l), a vehicle designated for transporting children To or from school or for any non-school related activity when they are in a group shall be fitted with the prescribed child safety equipments! Design safety features or structures.
A person who, carries or permits another person to carry a child under the age of eight years, on board a vehicle shall ensure that-
(a) The vehicle is fitted with the prescribed child restraint device or Seat; and
(b) The child is always placed in the device or seat whenever on board a vehicle in accordance with the prescribed instructions or guidelines.
A person who being the owner, manager, teacher of a school or a driver of a used for vehicle transporting children, who authorizes or permits the use of a vehicle used for transporting children or is negligent to prevent contravention with this Act commits an offense and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand shillings or imprisoned for a term not exceeding two months or both.

This are the set of laws that every parent would wish to see passed; but as they say. Wishes are not horses, if they were, every beggar would own one.

If the proposed amendments goes through and become law, it will be illegal for a matatu to transport children. students are not among the matatu investors target group and  don’t think any investor will do anything about meeting the requirements or standards. And since Matatus do not meet the prescribed standards i.e. they don’t have child restraints or seats for children, it will be illegal to carry them.

What we need to first ask ourselves is; why do school going children use unsafe transport/ matatus in the first place?

In my observation as a matatu driver, majority of the school going children who go to school via public transport are those from free public schools. Quite a number of those are from the poor families who take advantage of free education and probably because those schools are quite a distance from home, the children must need transport. Most of these public schools don’t provide transport and that is where we as the matatu fraternity come in.
Matatus are probably the only affordable means/ option for majority of people in Kenya to travel long and short distances. This also includes the school going children who need to board Matatus to and fro school. We are the ones Head teachers call upon to provide transport to students during curriculum related activities like drama festivals, school trips, etc. and since the education ministry has not come up with alternative means of transport to meet this need, Matatus are left with the responsibility of providing the much needed services.
Kenya is a developing country which means, it does not have all the infrastructures or the means to sustain and fully implement this laws.

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5 Comments

Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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5 responses to “Let us make laws that we can implement and sustain.

  1. nairobiplanninginnovations

    February 2, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Nairobi Planning Innovations and commented:
    Children in Nairobi need more protection and the Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2014 is providing some important guidelines. However, there are some key issues- will the gpvernnment proactively start putting resources into this including in safe transport for lower income children who often use bodaboda or matatus? This is a valuable view from one of Nairobi’s own matatu drivers who is also a father and a proponent of safety!

     
    • wambururu

      February 3, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      I would really want to see the government Proactively “as you say” move in and play its part. we are also mindful of the children’s safety. The question is, which government? The national government or the County Governments?

       
  2. KuiwaNjuguna

    February 3, 2015 at 7:48 am

    You are right. Our biggest issue is copying and pasting laws of developed nations for use in our developing one…most are great but contextually they don’t fit in with where we currently are. Sadly, most of times this laws are put in place with the efforts of impressing the hand that feeds us and not our people in general.

     
  3. Francis Njuguna

    March 1, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Let me ask a quick one.If you join a Sacco like Ngong route 111 Sacco and you have a minibus,how do you manage constant harassment by police.Will Sacco ensure that your vehicle is free of harassment maybe be making prior arrangement to mitigate these challenges.And at what daily fee per 33 minibus. ?

     

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