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Business Daily : October 9th 2013
13 Wednesday October 9, 2013 | BUSINESS DAILY Recent indications by the newly created National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) are that the agency has started on the right track to systematically im- plement a road safety programme to tame carnage caused by runaway road accidents. Road accidents have become a creeping national disaster when one considers an annual toll of more than 3,000 fatalities. The NTSA will have full time fo- cus and accountability to deliver high standards in road transportation. They will navigate through and manage over-lapping centres of responsibili- ties which previously created excuses and counter-blames. As a country, we should not tire of creating institutional authorities if these will improve regulation. This is the approach that should urgently be taken for national disaster preven- tion and response management. A vacuum evidently does exist because the government disaster committees or departments (if at all these exist) do not have sufficient resources or regulatory empowerment to accom- plish much. By default the Red Cross has become the de facto manager of national disasters, a task they have ef- fectively undertaken. Back to road safety. I have not yet seen the NTSA road safety imple- mentation blueprint. However, the authority appears to have segmented the transport sector and correctly con- cluded that they can address most of the road accident by prioritising on the PSV sector. History shows that PSV is the most vulnerable sector, probably followed by the petroleum road transport. By a coincidence the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) recently wrote good petroleum road transport safety regula- tions (not yet gazetted) under the En- ergy Act 2006. I advise NTSA to have an early look at the draft ERC regulations which can guide the PSV sector regulation. The ERC approach is corporate responsibility and accountability by li- censed oil transport com- panies, who are required to be fully accountable on road safety, includ- ing driver compliance. In the draft, petroleum drivers are required to be trained and certified as such. These certificates are renew- able, and can be withdrawn in case of non-compliance. The parallel between these two vulnerable sectors is that PSV and pe- troleum drivers undertake heavy indi- vidual responsibilities (human lives and dangerous goods). Professional certifi- cates are earned and can be forfeited on misdemeanour. Ordinary driving licences are not sufficient to qualify a PSV or petroleum driver. A minimum number of years driving experience should be set, as well as minimum age. Alcohol and drug use should be an es- sential enforcement parameter. Driver fatigue and sleep control should be key responsibilities for PSV and petroleum transport companies. The NTSA and the ERC should joint- ly work out modalities for implementa- tion of safe petroleum transportation regulations to avoid duplication and legal conflicts resulting from mandates of two different Acts. The greatest challenge with NTSA will be how to manage the enforcement in- terface with the police who are not expected to readily give up control. Never again should po- lice non-performance and corrupt escapades be the excuses for not ef- fectively implementing road safety standards. We should not transfer corruption from one centre to another. We have recently seen NTSA take control of motor vehicle inspection from the police. The police have no business doing vehicle inspection, a technical task that can even be out- sourced. Similarly, driver training and testing are professional tasks that should be removed from the police, whose role should be enforcement of codes on the roads. Which now brings us to the wasteful investments in traffic lights. We repeat- edly invest in traffic lights systems and immediately end up reverting to man- ual traffic control. The police should be freed to manage security, and not undertake tasks that can effectively be done by technology. We shall not tire of saying that there is a lot to be learned from Rwanda on road safety. NTSA should pick from Rwanda whatever best practices. Traf- fic lights work in Kigali; motorists are fined when they deviate; and helmets are worn by both motor bike drivers and passengers. The NTSA is well advised to move very fast and make firm scores early in the five-year term of this government. Nearer the elections, blackmail by vest- ed interests and cartels often force gov- ernments to go soft on enforcement, for fear of losing critical votes. It is a wise government that implements the more unpopular policies immediately after getting into office. NTSA will need to publish quarter- ly statistics for public accountability, and I guess it is part of performance contracting. Mr Wachira is the director Petroleum Focus Consultants . Full-time autho≥ity a clea≥ sign Kenya on the ≥ight t≥ack to ≥oad safety goal IDEAS & DEBATE OPINIONS I REVIEWS I ANALYSIS A road accident scene: The transport regulator should focus on the training of drivers, who must know they can lose certification. FILE REGULATION Agency ought to get enforcement right once the police give up the role BY GEORGE WACHIRA Histo≥y shows that PSV is the most vulne≥able secto≥, p≥obably followed by the pet≥oleum ≥oad t≥anspo≥t Other Voices TheCitizen (Editorial) Tanzaniahas drawn international attention withits massive oil and gas resources, and multinational companies have moved in to invest .Exploration and production of natural gas reserves is estimated at 43 trillion cubicfeet, valued at $430 billion, and many multinational firms are lookingtoinvest in thelucrative naturalgas sector. But some experts are warningthat the country may fall into thetrap ofillicit financial outflows that are said to cost developing countries $1 trillion every year. Jakaya Kikwete President of Tanzania Asuman Bisiika(DailyMonitor) Next Wednesday, Ugandans will commemoratethe51st Independence Day anniversary.But Ugandans stillcrave for one thingthat has eluded them for half a century: Apeaceful transfer of power. None ofthepoliticalparties inthecountry can claim to befunctioning well.Anyleader who has attempted toacquire a national profile by rallyingthepopulation has been tagged or portrayed as an enemy to the State. Yoweri Museveni President of Uganda Barack Obama President of America MichaelCohen (Guardian) To a casual observer of American politics theongoinggovernment shutdown and prospect of a cataclysmicdebtdefault in the next two weeks maylook likejust another round of “DC dysfunction” between two parties hopelesslypolarized and ideologicallydivided. It’s not. Whilethegovernment shutdown is nominallyabout theRepublican crusade againstObamacare, theissues at stake are far bigger than one law or even one president or one Congress.
October 14th 2013