NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 24 – Roads Minister Franklin Bett intends to introduce a Bill in Parliament to outlaw the placement of unplanned billboards on road reserves and private land.
Mr Bett said on Wednesday that billboards were a major cause of road traffic accidents in Kenya as they distract drivers.
“We cannot continue placing billboards on our roads that take away the attention of the drivers; especially the live billboards,” the Minister said.
“We will need to address those things critically without fear or favour,” he added.
Speaking at the launch of the Road Safety Week, the Minister also called on motorists and pedestrians to exercise discipline on the roads to avert the numerous accidents taking place across the country.
He continued: “3,000 lives are lost. I don’t know whether it is daily, monthly or annually. Whatever it is, those are lives. 41 percent are innocent children. But do we learn from those figures?”
“Everybody says the roads are the cause of our accidents but the statistics given indicate that 85 percent of the accidents are due to human error so I would say the roads are not guilty,” said Mr Bett.
According to the Traffic Department, only four percent of the road accidents are as a result of road conditions. The condition of the vehicles contributes to 10.5 percent.
At the same time, the Traffic Department said the introduction of new forms of transport in the industry posed a challenge because most accidents involved these new forms of transport.
Officer in charge of Road Safety Musa Imamai said the situation had been aggravated by the lack of a policy on modes of transport like the boda boda.
These modes of public transport are especially used in rural areas but are fast becoming a means of commute in urban centres as well.
“This poses a real challenge because if we look at other countries where we have had an upsurge in the use of these non motorised forms of transport, they are distinguished from the general traffic in a way that we would have motor vehicles on their own roads, motor cycles on their own lanes,” Mr Imamai said.
Former Vice President Moody Awori noted that the impact of road accidents in the country was immense especially on the economy.
“Two percent of our GDP is spent on dealing with road crashes. If you consider that our GDP is now close to a trillion, that is a colossal amount of money. That is the kind of money if we did save it, will for example increase the amount of drinking water in various areas, the number of hospitals,” said the former Vice President.