What If The Government Launches Driverless Matatus In Kenya?

Over the weekend I decided to take the most pimped Matatu from Rongai to town. Technically, that is like a moving executive room. The ‘VIP’ entertainment and the work of art applied inside the matatus brings out a whole new level of Matatu culture. Well, the drivers and conductors are the direct opposite since their conduct and rudeness kills the discipline that is required on the road, as the driver was showing some amazing stunts along Langata road, the passengers were tightly holding their seats and praying not fall out of the moving vehicle. On arrival our heads were spinning and I couldn’t feel my legs.Well, thanks to Google we don’t need drivers.

Recently Google signed an agreement with the mayor of New York City to replace NYC Taxis with Driverless Cabs. The aim was to reduce the amount of complaints raised by customers and other road users. New York City has many taxis that crowd the city making it hard for regulators to control them. Kenya is experiencing the same problem but it’s even worse compared to New York or any other country.

How driverless cars will benefit Kenyans.

  • Improve road safety. Reports claim that over 1,983 Kenyans have died due to road accidents between 1st January 2015 to 2nd September 2015. Passengers top the list which implies that matatus are not being driven well. Most accidents are caused by human error. Most drivers misjudge other road users, they get distracted easily, they are careless and always in a hurry. Driverless cars use sensors that automatically monitor their surroundings.  The cars will be required to obey all road traffic laws and are expected to substantially reduce collisions, deaths and injuries. If Kenya introduces these driverless cars, accident reports will reduce. Sometimes back Google launched a website dedicated to report accidents caused by driverless cars.
  • They will reduce emissions and congestion. Traffic jams in Nairobi are mainly caused by careless driving and frequent road accidents that are caused by matatu drivers. Automatic self driven vehicles offer a better use of road space, reducing congestion and providing more consistent journey times, through the use of connected vehicle technologies. Connected vehicles will communicate with each other and their surroundings to identify the optimum route, helping to spread demand for scarce road space. Self driven matatus will also communicate with roadside infrastructure such as traffic lights and use this information to minimize fuel consumption and emissions.

Driverless vehicles will do more good than bad. Many countries in Europe have joined the business and Australia have started testing the cars on their roads. Toyota is also planning to add artificial intelligence on their cars. The company announced last week that it will be investing $50 million into establishing joint research facilities at Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to bring artificial intelligence technology to the road and in homes. This is a sign that auto companies are embracing technology and Kenyan Government should at least try and adopt some innovations.

However, the country is not ready for driverless matatus because of some obvious reasons that the country needs to work on. The country has old laws that I don’t think will allow amendments to make an efficient flow of self driven cars on our roads. The parliament passes Bills that favor the members. Making new regulations will be very hard. Mututho laws were good but road users were against them…why? The country was not ready.

Secondly, poor infrastructure. The country does not have roads that will allow driverless cars. The roads are bad especially in the rural areas. Traffic signs and lights are only found in major cities like Kisumu. Driverless cars depend on road signs for an efficient drive through the highway. In addition to that, self driven cars require adequate internet connection.

Thirdly, corruption and unemployment. Many people depend on matatus including. Driverless cars will make many people suffer because a machine does not carry a wallet.

On a general note, I think the country should try driverless matatus and fail then try again in the future.


Erick Vateta564 Posts

--- Erick Vateta is a lawyer by training, poet, script and creative writer by talent, a model, and tech enthusiast. He covers International tech trends, data security and cyber attacks.


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