AMBASSADOR STEVE MBUGUA ROAD SAFETY CAMPAIGN – The mission, the Pain and the outcome.
Since 2016, I have been conducting free road safety campaigns in the month of June and July to sensitize the public on road safety measures. My target has been pedestrian and motor cycle riders and every year I have been targeting a thousand road users. In the year 2019 my target was a hundred thousand citizens across the country and my approach was to train motor cycle riders, PSV drivers and conductors who would later sensitize their clients.
I printed 600 reflective vests and 10, 000 fliers, and contracted a number of young people who I first trained and then commissioned them to help in the road safety campaign across the country. I facilitated their lunch, transport and Ksh 500 allowance daily for about 2 weeks.
Mobilizing riders has always been a difficult task unless they are promised goodies like a Tshirt, money etc but over time I have learnt to motivate them and hold them for some minutes before they rush for clients. It is a tedious exercise and requires a great inner motivation, courage, patience and selflessness.
At the CBD it is even a little bit difficult to contain riders for more than 15mins unless you pay them to be attentive. Drivers and conductors too believes that the project is funded by some NGOs or NTSA so they keep requesting for their ‘tip’ and so the whole exercise requires to be calm, firm and persevering but by the end of it all I have been able to meet my target.
In 2019 before COVID struck I reached out to 6, 578 drivers and conductors at the Nairobi CBD, and later about 5000 at Githurai stage, Ruiru, Juja, Kiambu , Thika and Nakuru(Town, Salgaa and Sachangwan).
At the Salgaa and Sachangwan area I camped there for quite a long time training riders, drivers and some community members and went even to my village area of Murunyu where I did train riders at the center and had a one day Free Community Safety Training at Deliverance Church Murunyu.
The whole exercise costed about Ksh 234, 700 which was my longtime saving and as a young person trying to make ends meet this is quite a hefty amount which took a long time to save and sacrificing some family activities and needs just to help prevent accidents.
I remember at some point after walking throughout the day from 7am to 6pm talking to drivers, conductors and passengers along Thika road I developed a very serious bruise on my right toe caused by the heavy Safety Boot that I was using and for about 3 weeks I was using sandals and open shoes.
Another challenge I faced specifically at Limuru and Naivasha was some government transport authority officers that I do not intend to mention that opted to authorize removal of all the stickers we had put in PSV vehicles and several drivers were concerned about it and called to report it to me but that did not bother me. Few weeks later there was a huge country wide road safety sticker campaign from the same authority that ordered removal of the stickers I was putting and it was mandatory for all PSV vehicles to have their stickers. I was delighted to see their action because my motive at the end of it was to have the public sensitized on the appropriate Safety rules and regulations to help build a culture of Safety.
According to the 2020 crash survey by the National Transport and Safety Authority, 156 passengers had died by April 13 2020 compared to 205 who succumbed by the same period in 2019.
On the other hand, more pedestrians- 367 had lost their lives since the year began compared to 348 who died in 2019.
262 motorcylists had died on the road since the year 2020 began. This is according to the 2020 survey results by the Authority dated April 23. The number was slightly high compared to 2019 whereby 204 motorcyclists lost their lives by the same date. A total of 1,022 people had lost their lives since the year began compared to 1,058 who died in 2019.
Do you know the meaning of 1, 022 deaths within 4 months? On average we lose 5000 lives on our Kenyan roads, just imagine. What’s the population of your church or the primary school that you attended? What is the population in your village? If you put all these bodies in a stadium they probably could fill the whole pitch. Imagine 5000 deaths in one year, caused by negligence on our roads?
How many children are left without a parent, how many people lose their jobs because their boss died in an accident, how many people became disabled, how many people are traumatized or affected psychologically because of witnessing an accident?
During the Covid period when there were travel regulations and curfews, accidents reduced gradually. During the curfew period, we had experienced a lot of accidents in the evenings as people rush to beat the curfew hours.
The number of road accidents fatalities across the country was 3,707 in 2020 compared to 4,347 by mid December 2021, the highest in five years, representing a 17.3 per cent increase. The NTSA’s 16th, December 2021, road safety status report stated that, 4,347 people were seriously injured road up from 3,707 last year.
Kenya recorded 4,579 fatalities as a result of road traffic crashes in 2021, with tens of thousands more people seriously injured.
Kenya has recorded a total of 15,924 road accidents between January 1 and September 26, 2022, the National Police Service has said. Data released on Friday, September 30 indicates that 3,541 of the accident victims (22.2 per cent) died, 7,236 seriously injured (45.4 per cent) and 5,147 slightly injured (32.3 per cent).
Again, let me ask you and please put it in your mind and heart, an estimated 3,541 people dead and estimated 7,236 seriously injured(some died later, others completely paralyzed and others can no longer work to earn their daily bread) by September 2022? Can you imagine the impact of these figures and statistics? If you laid these dead bodies in a stadium won’t it look like a massacre? Think, Think, Think more and take action, an individual commitment to never cause an accident.
Most of the road accidents are caused by human error and thus can be prevented. They are caused by negligence.
My mission is to help build a culture of Safety and as an Ambassador of Safety and wellness, this is one value that I live for and where need be can die for. We need to save these lives that needlessly die because of cultures that can be changed. If every road user was safety conscious we wouldn’t be losing these lives or having people become disabled because of accidents.
Safety is both an individual and collective responsibility and each and every one of us has a responsibility to help bring sanity and a culture of safety on our roads.
Let us be resilient, vigilant, proactive, responsible, careful, and alert always. Let us SAY NO to road and traffic related accidents and SAY YES to discipline, courtesy, strict adherence to Road Traffic Rules and embrace the best practices in road safety and together we can build a culture of road safety and reduce these statistics. It is possible and can be done.
If I took the initiative alone and with my hard earned money to help save a life and without any external incentives, you can do it. Our institutions can do it. Your church can do it. As a family you can do it. Your company can do it. Your chama can do it. As a community you can do it. Together we can join hands to help build a culture of Safety and Wellness at all places all the time. Safety is as simple as ABC(Always Be Careful) and starts with Me/You/Us. #SafetyFirst #SafetyAlways #SafetyAllTheTime