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Nairobi PSV drivers face fresh tests

Traffic jam in Nairobi. Residents spend hours stuck in traffic especially during rush hours, a situation that is  made worse by indisciplined PSV drivers. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Traffic jam in Nairobi. Residents spend hours stuck in traffic especially during rush hours, a situation that is made worse by indisciplined PSV drivers. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Public service vehicle (PSV) drivers within the Nairobi metropolitan area will undergo fresh mandatory training and examination before getting clearance to operate under new rules proposed by the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (Namata).

The certification is in addition to the regular PSV driver’s licence, in what is an effort to tame the rampant cases of underqualified drivers operating PSVs thus endangering commuters’ lives.

The authority, established in February through an executive order, is mandated to provide solutions to decades-old traffic challenges in Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kajiado and Murang’a counties.

“All drivers of public service vehicles within the metropolitan area shall, in addition to the national drivers public service vehicles driver’s licence, undertake additional training and examination and shall on completion be awarded the driver’s certificate of professional competence as specified by the authority,” reads the bill sponsored by Aden Duale, the Majority Leader in the National Assembly.

The Namata driver’s certificate of professional competence will be valid for five years, meaning that drivers will be required to take the tests afresh every half-decade.

Facilitation of the drivers and operator competency trainings will be done by Namata which will further specify and monitor the entire process.

Nairobi’s road network has struggled to keep up with its growing population, which has increased to over 3.3 million from 350,000 in 1963.

Vehicle numbers have also grown in the period, which has resulted in city residents spending hours stuck in traffic gridlock especially during the evening and morning rush hours, leading to losses in terms of money and business.

The situation is made worse by unruly PSV drivers, who break traffic rules with impunity, blocking roads for other motorists across the city. In 2012, the World Bank committed to invest $300 million (Sh31 billion) in the mass rapid transport system (MRTS) project, in addition to $113 million (Sh11.6 billion) from the Kenyan government.

Construction of the bus rapid transit system that is expected to start this year will be the initial phase of the World Bank-funded-MRTS project.

President Uhuru Kenyatta established Namata as an interim measure pending the enactment of a statute that will create a fully fledged authority with expanded powers and a broader mandate.

The bill has gone through first reading in Parliament and now needs to be committed to the relevant committee for deliberation before it proceeds to the next stage.

The enactment of the regulations may however face delay due to the slow start of parliamentary business following the hotly disputed General Election.

Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi said recently that the House was experiencing challenges in dealing with some of its business as it is yet to constitute its departmental committees.

A protracted electioneering period has led to quorum issues and a divided Parliament which has affected establishment of the committees mandated to deliberate on bills, petitions and regulations developed by State corporations and government entities.

“These regulations will now have to remain in limbo since this committee is yet to be constituted,” said Mr Muturi.

Parliament has since gone on a 21-day recess that concludes on November 29.

Once the Namata law comes into operation, the authority will be responsible for the design and specification of all public transport routes and services routes, some of which were put in place in the early years after independence.

Funding to run the authority will be from the Exchequer, national and county governments, fines as well as donations and loans. Upon enactment of the bill, the Treasury cabinet secretary will be required to establish the Namata Fund from which the authority will draw money authorised by its board.

The Ministry of Transport is expected to work with the authority to develop a comprehensive transport policy on the development of the Metropolitan Area, formulate and oversee the implementation of an integrated transport master plan.