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Kenya to ban goods from matatu roofs

The government will outlaw mounting of carriers on the rooftops of passenger services vehicles. A picture of a matatu carrying goods Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau last week said banning PSVs from carrying goods on their rooftops would enhance safety in the public transport sector and reduce the number of accidents. “This is important to avoid instances where buses with load carriers tip over when overloaded, as happened in the case of the Ntulele crash,” said Kamau. The August Ntulele accident left 41 people dead. Compliance with the regulation, Kamau said, would  enhance survival rates in the event of an accident. Further, National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) will ensure vehicle body builders adhere to the use of specified materials. “We will not hesitate to deregister vehicle body building companies that fail to comply with the set standards,” he added, saying the lack of safety on the roads is partly a result of sub-standard vehicle bodies. “One of the causes of the loss of many lives in the Ntulele bus crash was the poor build of the bus, as evidenced by the tearing off of the entire roof and sides of the bus during the accident,” Kamau added. He made the remarks last week during the commissioning of a Sh100 million General Motors bus body building technology centre. Vehicle bodies The vehicle body building industry in Kenya is not properly regulated, and only a handful of firms are registered. David Percival, of the Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers in Thika, said the vehicle body building market is dominated by 30 semi-formal builders and over 300 informal ones. “There is need for the government to develop standards with a view to ensuring quality production of vehicle bodies,” he said. The GM assembly centre will also serve as a training ground for local body builders on best practices to improve skills and technology transfer for the local industry. “As a market leader in this industry, GMEA is committed to investing in the growth of the bus segment and the centre will work as a benchmark for safety, quality and technology,” GMEA Managing Director Rita Kavashe said, as the first bus — an Isuzu Cruiser — rolled off the new assembly Centre. The new Isuzu Cruiser is a key component of the company’s strategy to grow its market share, currently at 25.4 per cent, in its traditional markets within East Africa, and penetrate new markets in sub-Saharan Africa. “The bus, targeted at hotels, tour operators, schools, institutions and the public service vehicle sector, has enhanced safety features and improved fuel efficiency demonstrating GMEA’s commitment to innovation,” Kavashe added. Egyptian bus manufacturing company GB Polo is partnering with the firm on provision of materials and technological expertise for assembly of bus bodies. “We are currently importing partially knocked down kits, but in the near future, we plan to import completely knocked down kits as we apply the transferred technical expertise to build the full bus body,” Kavashe said. By NICHOLAS WAITATHU, The Standard

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