Leadership, News

Save Us From These Road Construction Disasters

Last week, my love­ly daugh­ter Michelle was dri­ving beneath the Nairo­bi Express­way when falling debris smacked her wind­screen and dam­aged her bon­net. She joined a grow­ing list of motorists who in the recent past have lost their wind­screens and dam­aged their vehi­cles under sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances on the same road. As the chair­per­son of motor­cy­cle assem­blers, I get chills when I imag­ine the num­ber of boda bodas that dai­ly ply our roads that are under con­struc­tion in the coun­try includ­ing inno­cent pedes­tri­ans. And there­fore, I dare warn that even though acci­dents will always hap­pen there may be some peo­ple who are cur­rent­ly sleep­ing on their job because as much as we need the infra­struc­ture, our safe­ty is equal­ly critical. 

Through my two engi­neer friends, I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised to learn that there already exists rel­e­vant leg­is­la­tion that anchor a safe­ty plan and apply to all con­trac­tors. The first one is the Occu­pa­tion­al safe­ty and health Act 2007 while the sec­ond one is encap­su­lat­ed in rules that are known as ‘Build­ing Oper­a­tions and Works of Engi­neer­ing Con­struc­tion (BOWEC) Rules.’ 

I only picked five areas that road con­trac­tors MUST adhere to.

One, the con­trac­tor must pre­pare and present through pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion an elab­o­rate safe­ty plan. With this plan, the con­trac­tor must employ safe­ty super­vi­sors to mon­i­tor all aspects of safe­ty. Giv­en the high-risk nature of con­struc­tion projects, I sug­gest that the safe­ty tenets of the con­tract be wide­ly pub­li­cized, and hot­line num­bers are estab­lished for use when­ev­er a breach is noticed.

Two, the con­trac­tor must shield the road con­struc­tion site from falling objects and debris and also place clear sig­nage. The fact that we have expe­ri­enced mul­ti­ple acci­dents in the last few months, it is clear that some­thing is absolute­ly gone berserk. As we have seen in recent years, peo­ple can pay with their lives if rel­e­vant author­i­ties fail to con­sis­tent­ly enforce safe­ty requirements.

Three, all the plants, equip­ment, and tools must be ser­vice­able and duly cer­ti­fied. The oper­a­tors must also be expe­ri­enced and high­ly qualified. 

Four, all employ­ees work­ing on a con­struc­tion site must be fit­ted with Per­son­al Pro­tec­tive Equip­ment (PPE’s). This is meant to decrease the risk of work-relat­ed injuries and acci­dents includ­ing elec­tro­cu­tion or being caught between equip­ment. But haven’t we seen with our own naked eyes team mem­bers work­ing at road con­struc­tion sites with­out PPE’s? 

Five, all divert­ed traf­fic must be guid­ed by Traf­fic Mar­shals and must be free of dust and pot­holes. One of the rea­sons why road con­trac­tors cost and are paid lots of mon­ey is to ensure min­i­mal incon­ve­nience to road users and a clean envi­ron­ment to sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties at all times. Expo­sure to dust affects our lungs and can lead to heart attacks. That is why it is a require­ment for con­trac­tors to water the road at all times. On the oth­er hand, pot­holes are annoy­ing and incon­ve­nient. They need­less­ly dam­age our vehi­cles. Painful­ly, the con­trac­tors have been paid to guard us against such encum­brance. But do they? 

The Direc­torate of Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty & Health Ser­vices (DOSHS) has a man­date to ensure com­pli­ance with the pro­vi­sions of the Occu­pa­tion­al safe­ty and health Act 2007 among oth­ers. Would it be too much to ask that they set up mobile offices along with road con­struc­tion sites? How else can they cre­ate more well-pay­ing jobs for qual­i­fied pro­fes­sion­als in this field?

In 2020, Senior Coun­sel Ahmed­nasir Abdullahi’s sued the Kenya Nation­al High­ways Author­i­ty (Ken­Ha) for neg­li­gence after a stone dam­aged his car’s wind­screen. He won the case and was award­ed Sh750,000. 

Indeed, vic­tims of con­struc­tion-relat­ed acci­dents must seek legal and finan­cial redress for com­pen­sa­tion because the projects are ful­ly insured. We all have a right to walk, cycle, ride or dri­ve safe­ly. I humbly sug­gest that our Pres­i­dent order a detailed report on acci­dents on con­struc­tion sites. It is we the ordi­nary cit­i­zens who must remain vig­i­lant and hold con­trac­tors account­able. At least togeth­er with oth­ers, I stopped road con­trac­tors from felling the his­tor­i­cal tree in West­lands.  This is what it means to think and act green.

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • James wambua kinyili
    January 17, 2022 3:18 pm

    Con­grat­u­la­tions Dr kalua for your con­cern of life, when you love nature you love GOD, may the Lord bless you and your career


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