, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – The year 2014 has started on a positive note with 141 road accident fatalities recorded since the year begun, compared to last year’s 203 over the same period.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau announced the figures at a press conference on Thursday saying that the decline was as a result of the initiatives taken by his ministry, the National Transport and Safety Authority and law enforcers since last August.
Among these initiatives was the reintroduction of the dreaded alcoblow, a ban on night travel by unlicensed Public Service Vehicles, the use of speed cameras and the establishment of mobile courts along all the main highways.
“This year we have lost 141 people and it is still too early to say that this is going to be the trend. But this is still a very big number because we could have another Ntulele and the figures go haywire,” he observed.
Kamau, who was speaking at a ceremony where he received two breathalysers from Lion Laboratories, once again warned Kenyans against drink-driving.
He pointed out that 16 more breathalysers will make it to the country by January 20 before being distributed to various locations, particularly near popular entertainment spots.
“We will be on Thika Road, Lang’ata Road, Ngong Road, Limuru Road, Jamhuri, Jogoo Road, Nairobi West, the city centre and we will even go to Simmers. We will be everywhere. You had better be afraid,” cautioned Kamau.
The new gadgets will not only test the blood alcohol levels but will also allow police officers to print out the results and register an individual’s gender.
Kamau said that with the new gadgets, two beers are enough to get you into trouble.
“You are not supposed to have a blood alcohol level beyond 0.35 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. I think that is one bottle of beer; if you take two you are cooked so don’t drink and drive,” he said.
The government also said that it had not licensed any Public Service Vehicle (PSV) to operate at night so far and that none of them would be licensed until they meet the required regulations.
Kamau explained the PSV operators would not be allowed to run their businesses after 9pm without obtaining the special night license.
He noted that some of the companies made their drivers take on long distances without giving them sufficient time to rest which meant that exhausted drivers ended up ferrying passengers.
“For example some drivers drive from Nairobi to Kigali and then they are asked to drive back. All we are asking the PSV operators is to comply and if not then they should make plans that will see them travel between 6am and 9pm,” he said.
PSV owners have been complaining that they have not been given the licenses.
“Nobody has banned night travel but anybody who is doing long distance (any journey that is more than 60 kilometres) will not get a license to travel at night unless they fulfil those conditions,” maintained Kamau.