Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) Onesmus Kipchumba Murkomen has said that traffic police and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) have been put on red alert in order to curb road carnage which is normally on the increase during this festive season.
The CS said the government machinery was working round the clock to ensure enforcement of traffic rules on our highways was topnotch this festive season in order to avert unnecessary loss of lives.
He was speaking at the Inland Container depot in Naivasha where he commissioned two gantry cranes that will be used to load and unload heavy loads such as containers.
Murkomen noted with concern that road accidents are usually on the increase during this festive season as unscrupulous people put unroadworthy vehicles on the road in order to take advantage of the high demand for transport.
He said that some accidents are caused by drivers who speed or drive while exhausted in a bid to reach their destination and make return trips quickly for financial gain as well as to please their bosses.
A report from NTSA shows that over 4,000 people have already lost their lives in road accidents this year which is four per cent higher than the data recorded at the same period in early December last year.
To reverse this trend, CS Murkomen has advised Kenyans to make use of rail transport this season, noting that it was cheaper, safer and convenient.
“Rail transport will reduce pressure on the road and carries more people and goods than a bus, truck or a matatu and is not prone to accidents. Your goods too are safer and you can easily monitor their movement when you transport them by rail,” the CS said.
Murkomen was however quick to add that this is not meant to phase out trucks from our roads as he said the two transport systems complement each other and help in creating employment.
The CS who travelled via Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Nairobi to Suswa station accompanied by Chinese Ambassador to the country; Dr Zhou Pingjian before using a vehicle to Naivasha inland depot revealed that SGR transport to Mombasa was fully booked for the season.
Consequently, Murkomen said they were planning to bring in more coaches (trains) in order to meet the high demand for this means of transport at this time.
The transport CS also revealed that several coaches will be transporting people to Kisumu from Nairobi and these coaches might be increased this season up to around January 3 in order meet the high demand for transport.
He also announced that the government was consulting with various partners in order to jumpstart the SGR railway line from Suswa in Narok to Malaba border in Western Kenya through Narok, Bomet, Nyamira, Kisii and Kisumu as planned.
“We want to make railway the preferred mode of transport by connecting various parts of the country and the country`s border with its neighbours as this will spur trade and development and that is why we are revamping the Meter Gauge Railway (MGR) line which is the older railway line,” Murkomen said adding that another railway is being envisaged running from Lamu port through Garissa, Isiolo to Moyale border which will open up Northern Kenya and increase trade with our neighbours.
By Mabel Keya – Shikuku