Strathmore Univesity’s iLab Africa, has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Safewayz, a road safety awareness company whose key role is to use blockchain technology to make people be able to report about traffic violations.
Speaking during the signing in ceremony, the Director of iLab Africa, Dr Joseph Sevila, says that they welcome the three year partnership.
“ The idea of using blockchain for the roads is important because all the data will be of use to the user. We have made an application for funding from IBM to get 200 euros from IBM as a first step,” he says.
Road safety in Kenya is a detriment that tends to affect the youth.
An example is how in early January, a global media house report how a grandmother lost her three year old grandson when he was crossing a highway in Nairobi with his mother, four years back.
Both mother and child lost their lives, adding to almost 3000, the number of people who died from accidents due to lack of adherence to road safety rules, states the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA).
Further data from the NTSA states that there were 1, 574 people who died from road accidents in 2016.
A 2017 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that 15 and 25 years olds are more likely to float road safety rules leading to accidents.
Another WHO report, known as the Global Status Report on Road Safety in 2018 states that there is a co-relation between road safety rules and and speed limits, with children who lack safety belts being largely affected.
Kenya’s Vision 2030 has a program that adheres to the status of road safety which seeks to reduce the rate at which road crashes in the country can be reduced through the states’s National Road Safety Programme (NRSP).
On February 12th 2020, the Secretary-General of political party, Jubilee, Mr Raphael Tuju was involved in a road accident at the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, when his vehicle, a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) was hit by a Passenger Service Vehicle (PSV), which resulted in him incurring chest injuries.
The accident occurred as he was heading to Kabarak, where the late second President of Kenya, Daniel arap Moi, was to be buried.
Mr Tuju is currently seeking treatment at Karen Hospital for chest injuries incurred during the accident, after having left AIC Kijabe hospital.
The Founder of Safwayz, Mr Fred Gatiramu, says that there are factors that motivated their startup.
“We look at the limitations of roads and the people who can be able to access smartphones as well as motivating them to report traffic violations. An unchanged database enabled by blockchain technology can enable them to trace their violations on a crowdsourced violation system as it will be unchanged,” he says.
Mr Gatirimu alo says that driver behaviour further contributes to the problem of drivers.
The high incidence of lack of road saftey rules in the country have led to a call by the public in January 2020 to urge for the disbandment of NTSA, citing its ineffectiveness of reducing accidents and being unable to apprehend corrupt officers.
This follows an investigation by the Standard Media Group (SMG), which found that NTSA has surprisingly been unable to regulate the sale of speed governors which are important in curbing the speed of motor vehicles leading to crashes, yet it falls under the state agency’s mandate.
The recommended speed limit for PSV’s on Kenyan roads is 80 kilometres per hour.
NTSA abetts with drivers of PSV’s to flout traffic rules, by accepting bribes to overlook the fact that there are sub-standard speed governors being used, the SMG investigation revealed.
But the SMG investigative report was prompted by the discontent by the public which started on December 12 2019, also known as the Jamhuri Day public holiday, citing the increased rate of accidents in black spots around the country, such as Bungoma and Nakuru counties.
To its credit, NTSA has been taking action against PSV’s, also known as matatus, that are managed by Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies (Saccos). This is because the PSV’s that they manage tend to be non-compliant to road safety rules, such as flouting the NTSA provisions of Section 5, which states that Saccos must only operate 30 matatus, yet media reports that some of them operate less vehicles.
In a report that its released to the National Assembly’s Transport Committee recently, the NTSA revealed that there were 420 PSVs in Kenya that were operating illegally, yet they were key in generating revenue for the state.
Such Saccos that have been suspended include City Tram, Mwamba Sacco, Transfaris, MNGN and Mwirona Sacco.
In January, NTSA also suspended Northern E Travellers Sacco and the 35 vehicles operating under it for failing to comply with traffic laws being a concern to national security.
The Sacco had been operating nine routes, ranging from Garissa, Dadaab, Nairobi, Moyale and Mandera.
The Modern Coast Express was also suspended last year in December for being responsible for the death of seven people who had died along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway and 62 others injured.
But, it is not only Saccos that have failed road safety tests as per NTSA rules.
In June 29, the NTSA also revoked the licenses of 51 driving schools as they were in contravention of Section Four of the NTSA Act 2012, which states that ” the regulator will establish and curriculum of driving schools.”
The ban involved denied them access to the NTSA Portal.