Grenade attacks in Kenya have almost become a household name. From the Northern frontier
regions of Garissa and Moyale down to the coastal city of Mombasa, reports of grenades being hurled at unsuspecting members of the public are increasing by the day. Nairobi, Kenya’s capital has not been spared. The attacks were first constrained to Eastleigh, a sprawling city suburb inhabited by members of the Somali community. Soon enough, Gikomba Market was targeted before public transport buses plying along Thika Superhighway bore the brunt of these heinous acts. As it were, no one can predict when the next attack will come. Our security forces have stepped up efforts to contain the perpetrators with considerable success.
It is the responsibility of every citizen to remain vigilant and keep their eyes open. For instance, if you are in a public place and spot unusual luggage lying around with no one attending to it, inform the police at once. The government through the National Transport Safety Authority recently ordered that all passengers be screened before boarding buses and matatus in the city. As a safety precaution, choose to board those
vehicles where passengers are being screened. The staff might not be doing it well but at least it acts as a deterrent for criminals. All Matatus are now supposed to belong to a registered Sacco (Savings and Credit Co-operative Limited). Further to this, is the requirement that all public transport vehicles display the name of their Sacco visibly on the vehicle’s body.
As you board a matatu or bus, make note of the Sacco it belongs to. Check whether it has a fleet number and note it as well. This may seem like a waste of time but these simple names and numbers can be very helpful in solving public transport crime. If anything happens to you while travelling on that bus or matatu, report it to the nearest police station. By giving the fleet number and name of the respective Sacco to the police, it will make their investigations easier. A number plate might be too long to cram. However, Sacco names have been crafted using a combination of abbreviations depicting the route taken by the vehicle. This makes it easy to remember.
The Michuki rules, as the measures introduced by the late former Transport Minister John Michuki are fondly referred to, require the driver to display his photo. This rule be stretched further to include, among others: That, in addition to the photo, the driver’s name is also indicated in legible letters. Both driver and conductor should wear name tags complete with a passport photo and full names.
These measures will not only help enhance public transport safety, they will also bring sanity in an industry
where the customer has no say. Efforts by bus companies plying the Nairobi-Mombasa route to take video recordings of all passengers are laudable. As a matter of fact, bus companies such as the Modern Coast Bus Company started doing this long before terrorist attacks started taking place. Other companies have since followed suit.
Safety Tips for Bus Commuters
Travelling is a daily activity for many people hence awareness of their safety is paramount. To avoid putting yourself at risk of being involved an accident or hit by an oncoming vehicle, always wait for the bus at the
bus stop or sidewalk.
Make sure you are seated when the bus is in motion and if you are standing avoid doing so near a door. By being at the door, you risk falling off and getting injured if the bus stops unexpectedly.
When entering the bus, ensure that the driver sees you as you enter to avoid accelerating before you get seated. If he/she fails to see you and accelerates, you might end up falling and injuring yourself or other passengers.
Alert the bus crew of any unattended bags or luggage. With the emerging terror attacks, you never know their content. Any suspicious activity or persons should be monitored and an alarm raised if in doubt.