In Summary
  • New study shows PSV termini lack basic safety features to protect pedestrians.

An estimated 35 per cent of road traffic deaths in Nairobi occur within 20 metres of matatu stages, a new study has shown, highlighting infrastructure design flaws around these sites as well as rogue behaviour by drivers and lack of safety consciousness among pedestrians.

“This staggering number is a call for action,” the report from a pilot study on transport safety in Nairobi says.

“Developing a better understanding of how to regulate and enforce matatu flows, and driver and pedestrian behaviour, while at the same time improving the infrastructure at these sites will be required to guide policy action”.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) and the National Police Service with funding from donor agencies including the World Bank, the European Union and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

A spot check of the matatu termini in Nairobi shows that many pickup and drop-off points around the city lack safety features such as designated crossing points or protected sidewalks — exposing pedestrians to harm or even death.

Most highways in the country do not have footbridges — exposing pedestrians to the risk of fatal accidents.

The flow of public service vehicles (PSVs) is also slapdash as crew jostle to drop off and pickup passengers — adding to the woes of pedestrians who make up a massive 71 per cent of road traffic accident deaths reported by police between 2012 and 2018.

With walking as the main mode of transport in Nairobi, especially among the poor, the findings shift focus to improving safety features at the matatu termini and city roads.

It is only recently that the government stepped-up the creation of zebra-crossing and traffic lights and installation of footbridges on key roads, including Thika Road.

The NTSA has also been fitting a series of safety panels on major roads around the city in an attempt to force jaywalkers to use areas designated for road crossing, including footbridges on the busy roads.

The barriers have been erected on sections of the city’s Airport North Road and Mombasa Road and Waiyaki Way in Nairobi although the NTSA aims to cover more high-risk spots along these roads.

The new study revealed that in Nairobi traffic accident deaths and injuries are concentrated between 5am and 8am and between 5pm and 11pm, representing 53 per cent (deaths) and 50 per cent (injuries) of the total.

pedestrian deaths

The deadliest times for pedestrians are at night between 7pm and midnight when 41 per cent of pedestrian deaths occur.

“Implicating factors that need to be investigated further could include poor visibility, drunk driving and speed. Cross-examining location and time of crashes could help develop a strategy for remedying street lighting and enforcement of speed and alcohol regulation” the study report urged.

The survey further showed that while crashes occur in 1,400 different locations across the city, 200 locations represent 55 per cent of the deaths and 53 per cent.

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