Choose to be courteous on the roads

A section of the notoriously congested Thika Road. As we take to the wheel every day, we determine how much the economy will lose or gain by our actions or inactions.While the motorised world has its share of challenges, I believe we are in a position of influence and can change things by doing the little things right. Photos/WILLIAM OERI | FILE

What will you do differently this year to improve the environment in which you live and drive? What are your motorised New Year resolutions and how will they positively impact on your life and those around you?

A friend put it nicely early this week by asking, “Can you be of service to others in everything you do?”

 As we take to the wheel every day, we determine how much the economy will lose or gain by our actions or inactions.

While the motorised world has its share of challenges, I believe we are in a position of influence and can change things by doing the little things right.

Here are my thoughts on road courtesy, design and basic customer service.

Traffic and public transport

Let’s change the driving culture in Kenya, one driver and one passenger at a time.

Should we wait for stringent laws before we learn to obey basic traffic rules? Traffic lights at junctions are meant to control and ease the flow.

Red does not mean danger but stop. Amber means you may proceed with caution and Green indicates it’s safe to proceed.

Courtesy goes a long way in reducing stress, so give way at junctions. You will get to your destination less irritated and stressed by planning your journey properly. Leave on time and select the best route while respecting other road users including pedestrians.

Most Public Service Vehicles are a trouble to the law-abiding.

This week, a section of the public confessed that it would like to retain the 14-seater vans (commonly known as matatus) in favour of the larger capacity vehicles as they are able to overlap and get to their destination sooner.

The solution is not to have more rogue drivers behind the wheels, but have everybody obey traffic rules.

That way, we shall continue to live. Only in a lawless country rife with impunity would public service vehicles occupy an entire lane on a busy highway, in full sight of law enforcers, and get away with it. This, unfortunately, is the norm on Nairobi’s major roads.


Overlapping has grown to be accepted as the normal way of dealing with traffic jams especially in Nairobi. Unfortunately, it makes the situation worse. Between the police and dysfunctional traffic lights, we are losing millions of shillings in lost business opportunities in an already weak economy.

Our roads are designed to accommodate a quarter of the current car population yet we make it worse by clogging every junction.

Common sense should push us to have roads that allow cars turning off the main flow of traffic road to have different lanes from those going forward.

It is also possible to monitor and control the lights depending on the number of vehicles on the road any time.
It’s been done in modern cities with 10 times the population of vehicles we have. 

While we appreciate the better, wider roads, it does not give contractors the right to maim and kill innocent road users. It will not cost them much to invest in road signs that alert road users of where the new diversions and trenches are.

Lives have been lost on every new highway, including the small section at City Cabanas and North Airport Road in Nairobi where unsuspecting motorists have driven into deep excavations because the contractor did not barricade or put sufficient warnings.

The sections are littered with concrete slabs, boulders, sticks and used oil drums filled with concrete. Do we have human rights lawyers?

Customer service
Have you ever been disappointed by a repair mechanic who hands back the car worse? This may be excusable at roadside garages, not at authorised dealerships.

Motorists have resorted to marking parts of their engines with paint so that they do not fall victim to unscrupulous mechanics who remove and sell off engine components to other corrupt motorists. When this happens at reputable dealerships, you wonder where to go next.

 Buying a vehicle is a huge investment that contributes to the development of the economy by fostering job creation.

When you schedule service and repairs, it beats all logic for the dealership not to keep their end of the deal and work on your vehicle as agreed.

It, therefore, goes without saying that if you are responsible for any brand of vehicle you should give quality and competent service to those that choose your brand.

This is especially so when one buys premium brands like Mercedes, Volkswagen, Porsche or BMW.

Customers have invested in the brand to enjoy a promised experience. They should demand and deserve service above what is offered by budget vehicles.

 In 2012, resolve to change the small things we do wrong for a better good. Inefficiency, incompetence and lack of capacity is not an African curse, it’s a disease that can be cured.

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