Safety Belts is a long-forgotten story in Kenya
Safety belts is a long-forgotten story in Kenya somehow. October last year, the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, in a joint partnership with the National Road Safety and Transport Authority (NTSA), issued a stern notice to Kenyans, motorist and Passenger Service Vehicles warning them to comply with the popular Michuki Rules or face the consequences. What followed was a serious crackdown in November, dozens of Matatus were impounded, passengers who were found without safety belts were arrested and fined, private motorists on the wrong side of the law were not spared.
Nairobi, in particular, was a mess. Transport was completely paralyzed, fares skyrocketed unreasonably. And for those who live in places like Ongata Rongai, the three weeks that the Matatus were trying to cope with the enforced rules obviously drained their pockets. Opportunists took advantage of the situation to drastically hike the fares.
The set of rules that were demanded of the operators included fittings of safety belts, speed governors, painting of the continuous yellow line by the PSV operators and those that had loudspeakers in their vehicles were asked to remove them.
CS Matiang’ I together with NTSA Director Mr. Francis Meja had devoted their energy to ending the transport menace for once and for all. Here we are, one year later and the issue has been forgotten or disregarded. I traveled yesterday from Bomet to Nairobi, the traffic police that stopped us did not care about checking whether the passengers had belt up or not. They only engaged the drivers in a short low tone conversation before letting the Matatu go.
Most of the passengers I was traveling with could belt up when we were approaching the police, and untie their safety belts after the ‘inspection’ which did not happen. This is the same thing with Nairobi city commuters. They do not even care to put the detached safety belts back to their seats, leave alone fastening. I’m giving you this assignment as a social experiment, board one of the Matatus around Nairobi or any major town CBD, and check whether the passengers have tied their safety belts.
For unknown reasons, Kenyans don’t like safety belts, but why? Very few people wear their seat belts. There was a heated Twitter conversation of Monday, under the hashtag #SafetyBeltsKE after a grisly road accident claimed 13 lives in Awasi, Kisumu – Kericho Highway.
— Ma3Route (@Ma3Route) October 7, 2019
Wearing a safety belt is a proven way of preventing death and injuries in the case of road accidents. It restrains you from being ejected out of the car when a crash or sudden braking is experienced. Your car or a Matatu you’re traveling in may roll and would definitely stop at some point, but this does not stop your body from moving, meaning your body would still be experiencing momentum. Without a safety belt, you can easily be thrown out and chances that you will survive are next to zero percent. So yes, let’s get our safety belts engaged. Do not ignore it.