Road Carnage in Africa
Hot Topic Road accidents (Carnage) in Kenya. How organizations can contribute to address this imminent Human and Economic crisis. Table of Contents 1. Introduction to road accidents in Kenya2 2. The main issues with road accidents5 3. Other subsidiary issues7 4. The effect of road accidents to businesses and the economy 8 5. Prepare to manage road safety challenges in an organisation 10 6. Dealing with ethical and legal issues 13 7. Future implications if issue is not addressed 15 8. Bibliography17 1. Introduction
Last year, 1 day before Christmas day, the Kenya Traffic police led by the Police Commissioner, Mr Mathew Iteere launched yet another National Road Safety Campaign aimed at curbing road accidents during the holidays and cutting the holiday period road accidents rate by 50% from the tradition high of 200-300 accidents that happen during that period from 24 December to 5 January (Daily Nation, 24th December 2009). In his Christmas message, The Police Commissioner regretted that most road accidents in Kenya can be avoided (even eliminated). He noted that road accidents are mainly caused by carelessness (human error and poor judgement) y road users. He singled out over-speeding, over-loading, none use of the safety belts and disregard of the Highway Code as the most abused traffic rules today. In his widely televised message, he issued a warning to careless drivers and directs the traffic police (blue boys) to act on those that abuse the traffic rules. Such a road safety crackdown is not new in the 46-year old post- independence Kenya. But those actions should be strengthened and be made into routine practices that have a longer timeframe enabling one to build the much needed sustainability.
It’s a widely known fact worldwide that road accidents cost huge amount of money let alone the lost human resources especially to the developing and undeveloped economies (WHO & World Bank report, 2004). The combined human and economic cost is simply not acceptable to poor countries that want to boost the standard of living of their majority population with very scarce resources. According to a recent report done jointly by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO) on road traffic injury prevention, road accident statistics are quickly becoming the global catastrophe as shown below. 1. 2 million People are estimated to die globally each year on our roads. That’s around 3,000 deaths daily of which 500 of them are children. ? 50 million people are estimates to be injured globally on road injuries each year, 15 million seriously. ? Developing countries account for more that 85% of the global death toll from road traffic crashes or accidents. ? The global financial cost of road traffic injuries is about 518 billion USD each year (about 2-4% of GDP). Such is cost is equivalent to 50% of the GDP of Africa the continent (Kenya Statistics, 2004). For males aged 15-44, road traffic injuries rank second (after HIV/AIDS) as the leading cause of premature death and ill health worldwide. ? By 2020, unless action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to rise to about 80% in low and middle income countries especially developing countries (WHO and World Bank report, 2004). Clearly, it is as difficult to accurately determine the economic burden of Africa’s road traffic accidents, as it is to collate accident data in the first place. There are the problems of under-reporting to contend with, as well as different countries adopting different criteria e. . defining a road traffic accident fatality (Odero & Heda, 2003). Some countries define a fatality as one occurring on the scene, others for periods of 24 hours, three days or 30 days after the event (Bamburi Cement, 2009). Today road accidents are Africa’s third biggest killer, after Malaria and HIV/AIDS (WHO & World Bank, 2004): Africa’s roads are the most dangerous in the world, but with a growing awareness of the true cost of road accidents, initiatives are underway to dramatically improve their safety.
Road traffic accidents are known to be a major cause of death and disability throughout the developing world, but nowhere is the problem as acute as sub-Saharan Africa. Bad roads, aged vehicles and lax regulations are all considered major contributing factors to Africa’s road fatality and accident numbers, themselves three times as great as the continent’s share of motor vehicles. It’s this nationally critical issue that we want to study and propose urgent remedial actions for organisations as well as non-governmental organisations operating in Kenya. . The main issues with road accidents in Kenya The key issues with the road accidents and road injuries in Kenya are not new. For our literature review, Kenya has had a long history of road safety initiatives that have not lived to deliver the much needed breakthrough results. In 1979 a National Road Safety project was initiated and implemented with funding from the Finnish government, though few results can be seen 30 years later (Kenya Roads Board, 2009). Kenya looses about 3,000 persons every year through road accidents annually.
About 13,000 people are injured of which 6,000 are seriously injured and need long term medical treatment (Saidi & Kahoro, 2001). Most of the people who die on road accidents are vulnerable road users. These include pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists (Kenya Police, Traffic department). The majority of most of the people losing their lives are the young people, young graduates who provide the much needed skills and human resources base the country and organisations are in dire need of.
A common question not asked is why educate and train a professional for over 16 years, then lose him / her on the road just before he can be useful to the country or a business organisation. First, after a critical review on all road safety initiatives in Kenya, we find 3 main issues that we believe clearly explain the poor road safety record for the past 20-30 years. 1. What to do – we know what to do, but we have trouble implementing it 2. Implementation – the challenge with implementation is due to lack of capacity at 4 main levels • Inadequate Human resources Inadequate Financial resources • Lack of knowledge • Lack of political will 3. Collaboration – Is it then possible to build a Private Public Sector Partnership Program (PPSPP) which will implement road safety measures that can make a difference to the nation and make Kenyan roads a safer place for our children and the future generation? Secondly, the economic cost to the country is indeed very significant (WHO & World Bank, 2004). As noted earlier, the average cost of the road accidents and resulting injuries is about 2-4% of GDP per annum.
In 2009, the IMF assessed the Kenya economy GDP to be about 30 billion USD, a 2% cost per annum will translate to 600 million USD (estimated about 50 billion Kenya Shillings in one single year). It’s not doubt that such colossal amount of wasted expenditure only comes second to the annual recurrent expenditure allocated in the annual budget to Education and Health budgets (Ministry of Finance, 2008). Such a burden has huge implication on the ability of the economy to meet its needs from meagre resources that are available for nation building.
Thirdly, we have a public sector that does not see road transport and accidents as a key issue as long as it does not affect them or their families. This perspective does undermine any tangible progress in road safety initiatives as it’s created no sense of ownership on role as a general public (Kenya Police, Traffic department). 3. Other issues on road accidents in Kenya While the main issues have been addressed under section (3) above, the other issues that must be addressed include the following; ? Lack of a clear policy on road transport (review of the old traffic act is now mandatory).
A clear policy will create guidelines to administer and manage the road safety roadmap. ? Poor enforcement of existing traffic rules particularly by the enforcement officers, mainly the traffic police. ? Rampant corruption within the traffic department. Corruption is perhaps the single largest bottleneck to enforcing the traffic rules and does in a way create an impunity culture for PSV drivers on our roads today (Transparency International, Kenya chapter, 2008). ? Lack of a clear ownership between the public sector and the private sector on the framework to deal with road carnage. A guideline which included an approved curriculum on training and licencing of all types of drivers. ? How to develop an axis to mobilise the public to take care and protect their lives and those of other road users. 4. The effect of road accidents to organisations Our research shows that road accidents do not respect any business entities, indeed their implications transverse all business organisations. Both private and public institutions face the full blunt of road carnage in different ways as shown below; ? Loss of critical human resources and talents in organisations
The primary age group heavily impacted by the road accidents are the young people between the ages of 15 – 44. This is usually the young professional age group that provides the much needed human resources in organisations. Road accidents take away the much needed source of talent as well as the future leaders in organisations (WHO & World Bank, 2004). ? Higher direct cost of doing business in the country Loss of lives through accidents results in increased business costs, organisations face both short term and long term treatment and medical expenses.
The severe injuries require more long term medical costs that result in increased medical premiums and medical costs for an organisation. On the other hand, the lost man-hours cannot easily be compensated especially in the case of a fully trained, qualified and proficient staff member. ? Higher indirect cost of doing business compared to other countries In modern day settings, injuries to family members created more demand for employees, particularly if an employee’s relative suffers injuries after an accident. Such strain impacts on employee’s morale and ability to dedicate all his abilities to get his / her work done.
In addition, accidents results in increases cost of road transport (through higher insurance premiums, higher fuel consumption and delays due to traffic congestion after accidents). The business partner involved in an accident has increased cost of losing an asset, which in most cases is indirectly passed onto the organisations. For government organisations e. g. public health hospitals (Kenyatta National Hospital), higher accident victims results in higher operating expenses which have to be funded by the central government through increase of taxes on an annual basis. Unpredictable business planning Businesses rely on predictable business environment to remain profitable and continue with their operations (Kumar & Subramanian, 2000, p. 1). Road accidents hinder the predictability of the business environment through delayed delivery timeliness and increased turn-around time for organisations. In nearly all cases, these additional costs must be paid for in full by the organisations in question, resulting to lost productivity, efficiency and profitability. 5. How can organisations better manage the road safety challenge
When we talked to a number of organisations in Nairobi, we notice how heavily they have invested in state of art security and alarm systems to protect their assets (money, machines, organisational documents, policies, trademarks and patents etcetera), but few if any have developed even a simple structure to safeguard the safety of their employees while on the road. It’s important to also include human resources as a critical resource for the organisation. A great proportion of companies have not developed sound plans to safeguard their most important asset (human resources), especially when they are on the road travelling while on the Job.
While road safety from the office to work is largely seen as an issue for the employee to manage, it’s paramount that organisations and their management teams provide a clear framework to provide their employees with a road safety roadmap that will enhance their vigilance while on the road to and from work. People are the greatest asset an organisation can have today. Good employees are a source of competitive advantage for an organisation (Samson & Daft, 2009). A glimpse of the few organisations that have designed an effective road safety program in Kenya today especially, petroleum companies (e. g.
Total Kenya and Bamburi Cement) highlights about 5 step action plan to set an effective road safety roadmap. Each organisation needs a clear roadmap which if well implemented and incorporated in the organisation systems, will lead to improvement of safety in most of our roads today and safe companies lost man hours, sick leave, absenteeism and higher medical bills. 1. Collect data At the beginning, the organisation should assess its specific road safety context by collecting road accident statistics (road fatalities, lost time injuries, medical injuries, and first-aid injuries) and define what is measurable.
The data collected should then be analysed into critical information to aid in decision making. Second the organisation should define a road safety policy with clear milestones and key objectives to be monitored on a monthly basis. A regular and consistent monitoring mechanism should be designed by the organisation, to review its progress of its road safety objective. 2. Develop a road safety plan A road safety roadmap is a mandatory document for any organisation committed to ending the carnage on our roads today.
The roadmap should be a well neat and elaborate plan of action on what the organisation wants to do in improving its road safety commitment and objectives. These action plans must address the challenges on policy, enforcement, ownership, and training and self renewal priorities for the organisation. 3. Resource the road safety plan A plan is ineffective without key resources being allocated to it. The organisation should identify and sufficiently allocate two main types of resources; (1) Financial resources and (2) Human resources (competent and well trained resources. . Launch urgent interventions A key lever for a road safety action plan is to address current major gaps with immediacy to build legitimacy in the roadmap. The key areas that require immediate intervention are on;- ? Speed ? Impaired driving ? Seat belts ? Helmets ? Road mapping ? Defensive driving training ? Emergency preparedness 5. Collaborate with others Finally the organisation should plan to share its best practices with other institutions as a way to benchmark performance and renew its practices both on local, regional and international levels.
With increased collaboration and partnership with the public sector, with a shared vision, the challenge of the road accidents and injuries will be addressed head-on by all stakeholders hence creating a sustainable avenue to address this great challenge facing organisations in the 21st century. 6. Ethical and Legal Issues The key challenges towards realising an effective road safety program in any organisation is how candid data collected or observed will be shared across the organisations so that corrective actions (that may include sanctioning) can be applied.
Most of the major changes in safety awareness remain with our culture (way of doing things here) or on changing individual behaviour and taking a personal commitment to protecting other people lives. Some of the common ethical dilemmas that managers face include the following; ? Can i report the Chief Executive, Senior Managers or a friendly colleague who i noted did not adhere to the company’s guidelines e. g. driving while speaking on mobile phone on the road? Will this affect my career or my relationship with my supervisor? Can staff be required to use the Alco-blow to detect the influence of alcohol (though this is not yet legalised in Kenya)? ? Can staff carry out safety initiatives away from the office e. g. monitor staff travelling for a weekend to upcountry and are not wearing seat belts? ? Can we terminate an employee who does not comply with the organisations code of conduct on safety? ? Should i disclose an accident or should i bribe the traffic policeman to be left scot-free. A reported accident my injure my career opportunities and limit subsequent promotion changes in future.
On the legal side, the main challenge remains how to deal with corruption (so called white lies) both within and outside the organisation. ? Internally, this may not be a great issue as staff can be directly sanctioned in the line with staff standing instructions and their employment contract. ? However, externally the issue with corruption (rather falsification of accident information so as not be appear guilty) is a major setback for enforcing a successful road safety roadmap. According to Transparency International, the police department has year after year been rated as the most corrupt institution in Kenya.
Can they be relied upon to book violation of a driver, pedestrian or other road user fairly and equitably? This remains a key component that requires constant collaboration and use of other tools e. g. global positioning systems (GPS) to address rampant cases of cheating on the part of employees (Transparency International, Kenya chapter report, 2008). 7. Conclusion In conclusion, there is no doubt that road accidents results in huge human and economic cost to our relatively poor country (WHO & World Bank, 2004).
The lives that are lost on our roads every year are critical to achieve the economic objectives of the country and organisations as well. Similarly the country has to save money to be spent towards treating road injury victims rather than providing such much needed funds to other areas of economic growth e. g. to fund projects like free primary education (FPE), improve our road network (build and repair our roads) and provide the much needed medical facilities in public hospitals (equip public hospital better).
As a country we cannot afford to lose 2% of annual GDP (about KShs 50 billion) on road accidents, related injuries and long term medical treatment to accident victims. If accidents can be avoided, these resources can be allocated to other critical areas of the economy and organisations can be able to improve their productivity and become more responsible citizens. The medium term impact on the economy is indeed catastrophic and as a country we will not be able to meet our vision 2030 to becoming an industrialised nation.
It’s time for all Kenya, young and old to participate to improve their safety standards in our roads and make Kenya a safer country for our children future. As a nation we owe this to the future generations of this country. As noted by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation in 2004, unless action is taken, by the year 2020, road traffic injuries are predicted to rise to about 80% in low and middle income countries (developing countries). Our country will not be spared if it does not take immediate and more radical actions to manage the road safety issue.
At today’s road accident frequency rate, road accidents will become the 2nd largest cause of death after Malaria in Kenya by the year 2020 and surpass HIV/AIDS as the 2nd largest killer (WHO & World Bank, 2004). This is confirms our recommendation that as a country we are sitting on a time bomb. Today is the time for you and me to develop our solid action plan, put these actions into practice and contribute towards improving the safety in our roads. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. WHO & World Bank. (2004). World report on road traffic injuries prevention. Accessed on 4 January 2010 from http://www. ho. in/violence-injury-prevention. html 2. The Kenya Roads Board. Road accident statistics (2009). Accessed on 4 January 2010 from http://www. krb. go. ke. html 3. Bamburi Cement limited. Road safety campaign “Epuka Ajali” (2009). Accessed on 31 December 2009 from http://www. bamburicement. co. ke. html 4. Kenya Police. Traffic department. Accessed on 4 January 2010 from http://www. kenyapolice. go. ke. html 5. Kenya Statistics. (2004. ) Accessed on 4 January 2010 from http://www. unicef. org/infobycountry/kenya-statistics. html 6. Odero, W. K. & Heda, P. M. (2003).
Road traffic injuries in Kenya, magnitude, causes and status of intervention. Inj Control saf promotion, Mar-June 10 (1-2). Pg 53-61 7. Saidi, H. S. & Kahoro, P. (2001). Experience with road traffic accidents violations at the Nairobi Hospital. East Africa Medical Journal, 78 (8). Pg 41-44 8. Samson, D & Daft, R. D. (2009). Fundamentals of Management. 3rd Asia Pacific Ed. Pg 170-206. 9. Kumar, K. & Subramanian, R. (1998). Navigating the External Environment. SAM Advanced management journal. Retrieved December 14, 2009 from HighBeam Research: http://www. highbeam. com/doc/1P1-5377780. html