Rising death toll in road crashes triggers alarm

At least 2,564 people have died in road accidents this year, with 34 per cent of the fatalities attributed to private motorists.

This has already exceeded last year’s figure of 2,445 deaths on the roads.

National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has warned that with the Christmas season approaching, the number of fatalities could hit the 3,000 mark this year.

The latest fatal accident occurred in Nakuru County when two fresh produce hawkers were crashed to death at Mau Summit junction on the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway on early Thursday morning.

Three other hawkers were seriously injured in the 3am accident that involved a lorry heading to Kisumu from Nairobi and a Nairobi-bound Western Shuttle bus from Kakamega.

The lorry driver, the conductor and a passenger in their company were seriously injured and were rushed to Molo district hospital.

On Wednesday, four people died when a matatu rolled in the Sololo area, four kilometres from Moyale junction, Marsabit County.

Eleven other passengers sustained serious injuries.

The matatu, which was heading to Marsabit Town rolled several times following a tyre burst, killing the driver on the spot.

Acting police commander Mark Wanjala said a woman, a child and another man died later while receiving treatment at Sololo Mission Hospital.

On Thursday, NTSA officials, while releasing latest statistics on road accidents said the rise in crashes involving private motorists using their vehicles commercially was alarming.

Mr Hared Hassan, the agency’s safety enforcement and accident investigation unit boss, warned of a major crackdown to check this vice to reduce accidents.

“We have lost a total of 2,564 people this year. And of these fatalities, 34 per cent are caused by private vehicles, followed by heavy commercial vehicles at 23 per cent and PSVs at 20 per cent,” Mr Hassan told journalists in Kisumu, after he inspected ion the main bus park on Wednesday.

CHRISTMAS FESTIVITY

Mr Hassan said that about 2,445 people died in road accidents last year, and, with the Christmas festivities closing in, the figure might hit the 3,000 mark this year.

The December festive season is notorious for many accidents due to heightened travel and surge in demand for transport, which causes recklessness on the roads.

Mr Hassan was accompanied by the authority’s director of motor vehicle inspection Gerald Wangai, and Nyanza regional traffic commandant Kaberia Mbiti.

According to Mr Wangai, there was an increase in disregard for road safety regulations by drivers.

“The compliance in some regions is very low. In Nyanza for example, the compliance with safety regulations is at 20 per cent, which is very sad. We must work together to ensure our safety and those of other road users,” said Mr Wangai.

Mr Hassan said the owners of private vehicles being used as PSVs will be dealt with firmly.

“It will no longer be business as usual. Those private vehicle owners who want to operate as PSVs with no proper licensing and inspection, will pay for the consequences of their choices,” said Mr Hassan.

The authority’s team is in the Nyanza region in its random inspections.

The team has been to Kisii, Migori, Naivasha, Homa Bay, Nyeri and Naivasha.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION