Why Governor Johnson Sakaja wants wine and spirits shops near Nairobi bus stops removed


A collection of alcoholic beverages.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has ordered the removal of all shops selling alcohol near the city's bus terminals within seven days.

The governor spoke on Friday after receiving a report from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) on road fatalities in Nairobi.

During a meeting he chaired that brought together the Matatu Owners Association (MOA) and National Transport Authority (NTSA) officials, Mr Sakaja expressed concern at the number of people dying on the roads due to alcohol abuse.

"We will no longer allow disorder in the city, Nairobi is the capital. We are working round the clock to ensure this. Today (Friday), I have ordered the removal of all wines and spirits shops around matatu terminals," he said.

He has asked Chief Officer Tony Kimani, under whose office the shops fall, to ensure that the order is enforced within a week.

According to the governor, drivers and touts spend time in these liquor shops, which have turned into bars and drinking dens, while they wait for customers.

"We have lost loved ones to recklessness on our roads due to alcohol and drug abuse," he said.

He called on the NTSA and MOA to work with his administration to put an end to the menace, insisting that the disorder in the county would not continue under his watch.

"We have lost loved ones because of recklessness on our roads due to alcohol and drug abuse. Nairobi is the capital," the governor charged.

He also announced that he would be holding a meeting with the traffic department, all OCPDs, DCI officers, National Government Administrative Officers (NGAO) and ward and county administrators to ensure that the menace is addressed.

Latest data from the NTSA shows that as of January 7, there were 508 road crash victims, with the majority classified as seriously injured (234), followed by minor injuries (190) and fatalities (84).

Of the 84 fatalities, the majority were pedestrians, followed by motorcyclists, passengers, drivers, passengers and pedal cyclists.

Pedestrians lead the way with 31 fatalities compared to 28 last year, closely followed by motorcyclists with 23 fatalities, a slight decrease from 24 in 2023.

Drivers come third with seven fatalities compared to six in the same period last year.

Six passengers were killed this year, compared to seven in the same period last year, while only one pedal cyclist died this year in the period under review.

In its draft National Road Safety Action Plan 2023-2027, the NTSA says a number of national and county government agencies are currently underfunded to deliver safety-related services.

These include the NTSA, the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha), the police and county health authorities.

"The annual socio-economic losses in Kenya as a result of road crashes are estimated at more than Sh450 billion. There is a need to sustainably finance road safety programmes and cost-effective safety investments in Kenya over the next decade," says NTSA.

According to the NTSA, many accidents occur on the Northern Corridor, which accounts for the high percentage of fatalities.

"Five roads in Nairobi County, representing two per cent of the road network, account for 36 per cent of all fatal crashes in the country," said NTSA Director-General George Njao.

The five roads are Thika Superhighway, Outering Road, Mombasa-Nairobi Highway, Eastern Bypass and Northern Bypass.

The safety agency says fatal crashes are highly concentrated in time. Twenty-six per cent of crashes in Nairobi (30 per cent nationally) occur between 7 pm and 10 pm.

Last year, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen said drunk driving, speeding, non-use of seat belts and helmets, and unsafe crossing of the road by pedestrians were the main causes of accidents and injuries.

Mr Murkomen also said that most accidents, especially in cities, occurred on Friday evenings and Monday mornings, with a notable correlation with drunk driving.

"We have seen a worrying trend where private vehicles are involved in serious driving offences, contributing significantly to the alarming accident rates. Unfortunately, these incidents are not only tragic losses but also detrimental to the economy," he said at the time.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1.35 million people die on the world's roads each year and up to 50 million suffer non-fatal injuries as a result of road traffic crashes.