A sociological study on commuters' compliance to the new traffic regulations in matatu public transport: Nairobi province
Mbugua, Catherine W
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In recent times the matatu mode of public transport has experienced dramatic reforms geared towards addressing the chaotic operations and the frequent involvement of matatu publ ic transport in road traffic accidents. In an attempt to restore order and safety in the matatu public transport, the Government of Kenya has played a key role by the introduction of new traffic regulations in 2003. However, the effectiveness and the sustainability of the reforms are pegged on compliance of the targeted groups of which commuters are part. This study examined commuters' compliance to the new traffic regulations in the matatu public transport in Nairobi Province. Specifically, the study sought to investigate the extent to which the commuters have complied and the factors that affect their compliance. The factors include, their socio-economic background, their attitudes, perceptions and knowledge towards the traffic regulations, and the vehicular conditions. In addition, the study explored the future prospects for the improvement of commuters' compliance. In particular, the study was guided by five questions which include (i) to what extent have the commuters complied with new the traffic regulations introduced in 2004 and what factors explain their compliance? (ii) what is the level of awareness amongst the commuters towards the new traffic regulations in 2004? (iii) what are the attitudes and perceptions of the commuters towards the new traffic regulations in 2004? (iv) To what extent does the vehicular condition affect commuters compliance to the traffic regulations introduced in 2004? and (v) What are the future prospects for improving commuters' compliance with traffic regulations? The history of matatu public transport was reviewed and used as a backdrop of the recent events. Various scholars have singled out drivers and conductors as the main perpetrators of the chaotic operations and the frequent involvement of matatus in road traffic accidents in Kenya. However, the role of commuters in the disorder has largely been ignored. In order to understand the phenomenon under study, two theoretical perspectives were used: structural functionalism theory and rational choice theory. The study used both quantitative and qualitative approaches to collect data. The study mainly utilized the survey research that adopted a cross- sectional design and a semi-structure questionnaire was used to interview 191 respondents. The study also used field research in which key informants were interviewed by use of an interview guide. The key informants included, 8 traffic police, 10 drivers and 10 conductors. The quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Scientist). The analyses done included univariate, bivariate and multivariate (regression analysis). The study conducted in Nairobi in 2007 established a decline in optimism on the impact of the reforms, the police are no longer keen and corruption amongst the police has been a hindrance to enforcement. The commuters are hardly arrested for not complying with the reforms and there is a general lack of collective responsibility in the enforcement of the reforms. The findings generally reveal that there are low levels of sustainability of the traffic reforms implemented in 2004. The study also identified that there is significant relationship between highest level of education and use of safety belt, thus the higher the level of education of the passenger the more likely he/she will use the safety belt. There was also a significant relationship between awareness of when the traffic regulations were introduced and use of safety belt. Safety belt condition also affects the use of safety belt amongst passengers but the relationship was statistically insignificant. Given the findings it is clear that the sustainability of the reforms is begging and concerted efforts should be made to enhance commuters' compliance. There is need to emphasis on awareness, enforcement and collective responsibility of all stakeholders in enhancing compliance to the traffic regulations. There is also need for more research to improve the overall understanding of the matatu mode of public transport and the means of improving safety and order within it.