Targeting taxi drivers in LMICs can save young lives - a Kenya example

Targeting taxi drivers in LMICs can save young lives - a Kenya example

We highlight a recent article by The Guardian with our own experience on the topic of road safety measures targeting taxi drivers in low and middle-income countries. As part of their focus on global road safety development the Guardian place a focus on a new UN Habitat report calling upon stakeholders to regulate the 'informal taxi industry' and we share our experience of our how our young Kenyan facilitators are engaging with this industry through their own workshops.

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This article has been adapted from the Guardian's article which can be found here.

Improving the safety of minibus taxis is critical to reducing deaths and injuries from road accidents in the developing world, according to UN-Habitat, the United Nations' human settlements programme.

"In Kenya we call them matatus; in Dar es Salaam they are dala dalas. In South Africa they are simply called taxis," says Andre Dzikus, co-ordinator of urban basic services at UN-Habitat. "And they're a very important player at the moment, but they're … not really addressed by the stakeholders who are doing transport planning in cities. The highest-impact strategy [for improving road safety] would be to make the informal transport sector part of the solution."

Dzikus was speaking before the publication of the group's human settlements report, published every year on World Habitat Day. The latest edition focuses on urban mobility. Policy challenges on that front include mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring equal access to transport services, reducing congestion, and dealing with crime on transport networks. But road safety is also a major focus.

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The average 'dala dala' a bus service in Tanzania.

Road traffic crashes are the leading cause of deaths among 15-29-year-olds, according to data from the World Health Organisation. About 1.24 million people are killed in such incidents every year, nearly double the toll for malaria. And more than 90% of road deaths are in low- and middle-income countries.

As well as the personal costs of road accidents – such as fatalities and life-altering injuries – are costs to a country's economy. One study found that road accidents cost developing countries about 1% of their gross national product each year; more than some of those countries receive in annual foreign aid. Dzikus says minibus taxis, ubiquitous in many cities of sub-Saharan Africa, are an important piece of the road safety puzzle.

"In many developing countries, 50% of trips are done through informal transport providers," he says. "A lot of the [shared taxis] used in developing countries are secondhand vehicles, either imported from Europe or from Japan, and are relatively old. Some of them might not even be road-worthy … Some of the drivers work 14 hours, so that becomes a hazardous issue."

But, says the report, a few policy steps can go a long way toward making shared taxis safer. Governments should start by introducing driver-training programmes, requiring seatbelts in minibus taxis, and obliging motorists to get their vehicles inspected regularly.

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Over in Kenya, our trained facilitators identified informal transport providers as posing a threat to road safety and used their facilitation skills to run a session with Boda Boda Drivers in Kenya. Read more here.

YOURS commends the report calling for increased road safety measured to be targeted at the 'informal' transport industry, a service that has, in many parts, gone unregulated with disastrous road crashes. Last year, YOURS' Training of Facilitators in Kenya brought together a group of young Kenyan leaders passionate about road safety to tackle some of Kenya's most pressing road safety issues.

The premise of the Training of Facilitators is train a group of young people in key elements of road safety theory in both an international a local perspective coupled with on the ground practise of road safety facilitation. A key discussion that came out of last year's training was the increasingly dangerous habits of the transport sector. This included the speeding and lack of seatbelt use of 'matatu' (mini bus taxis) and lack of helmet use of the 'boda boda' taxis (motorcycle taxis). A lively discussion ensued tackling some of the myths surround the perceived hygiene concerns in sharing helmets and some of the easy solutions.

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The Kenyan facilitators identified the informal transport industry as a key target group to reach with the own youth and road safety workshops.

After the Kenya Training of Facilitators, the youth facilitators have already run a number of sessions targeting public transport providers including the boda boda and matatu community:

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A session run by our facilitator from the Kenya Red Cross targeting the matatu and boda boda community. Read more here.


We take the opporunity on the publishing of the report by UN Habitat to encourage further focus on the informal taxi industry in low and middle-income countries. Our young Kenyan facilitators have more workshops planned with the industry (who are oftern their own peer group) to convince them of the importance of implementing road safety, not only for their own good practise but to save their passengers' and their own lives.

We also call upon decision makers in low and middle-income countries to implement effiencetlaw and enforcement of road safety laws, safe infrastructure and roads, safe vehicles and road users as well as invest in quality post crash care. 

Find out more about our workshops and their impact here.



Original Guardian Article
Young Kenyans train Boda Boda drivers
Kenyan faciltators work with the matatu and boda boda industry
Read more about YOURS Workshop