No end in sight in speed limiters row

Thursday, September 26th, 2019 00:00 |
Dalcom Kenya Ltd chief executive David Njoroge (second right) and staff showcase how their new generation speed governors operate. Photo/PD/Tabitha Mbatia

The battle to control the multi-billion-shilling business of installation of the new generation speed governors on public service vehicles (PSVs) is fuelling sharp divisions among industry players. 

Some suppliers are allegedly plotting to make the venture a monopoly.  

At the centre of the controversy is a decision by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to extend the deadline for short listing suppliers of the gadgets as well as when matatus are required to have fixed the updated speed limiters.

The row exploded after the authority, which had initially pre-qualified 11 companies, opened a window that has seen it increase the number of the shortlisted firms by 13.

 Some of the new entrants are reported to have links with some officials and lack the capacity to deliver.

The implementation date for the installation of the tamper-proof speed governors was June 3, but was extended indefinitely in what the aggrieved parties believe is a ploy to enable incapacitated firms to get the job despite being unqualified at their expense.

Kill competition

But another faction, mostly comprising the Road Safety Association of Kenya (RSAK), believes the move to bring on board more firms by extending the pre-qualification listing, will create competition and guarantee quality.

RSAK chair David Njoroge, who is also the chief executive officer of Dalcom Kenya Ltd— the manufacturer of Omata speed governors— said the disgruntled parties are making a selfish demand.

Njoroge, whose company invented the revised speed limiters, said the unhappy firms that have been inviting the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti to probe the licensing process are out to kill competition in the sector by locking out other interested firms.

With the number of PSVs countrywide estimated to be about 100,000 and the cost of installing the revised speed governors placed at around Sh35,000, the suppliers are competing for about Sh3.5 billion worth of business.

The figure is on the lower side considering that commercial trucks are also required to be fitted with the gadgets, and Njoroge questioned why such a multi-billion-shilling sector, whose primary objective is life saving, can be a preserve of 11 companies.

“Why should the business be left for a few companies? Let anyone who wants to join do so, so that there can be competition and this will ensure each of us will be forced to maintain quality and this will definitely ensure the cost of the gadgets will be fair,” the official said yesterday.

Njoroge acknowledged that there is splinter group, which he accused on focusing more on the profits.

Some speed governors suppliers, who wished not to be named for fear of victimisation, had earlier claimed that the move to list more suppliers is pre-calculated to ensure that their companies, which have initially been pre-qualified, are shortchanged because only the recently-listed firms will be considered.

Create monopoly

“We were shortlisted because we were able to show our ability to provide what is needed and we expected that the work would have been given to our companies but instead of hastening the implementation, the authority has extended (the timelines) indefinitely and added more companies, some of which have no capacity,” a director of one of the firms said.

But Njoroge said RSAK approached NTSA officials and advised them to open doors to more firms since there are many people to have invested in the business and it would be unfair to lock them out, saying doing so would be akin to creating a monopoly in the sector, which is dangerous.

“We also wanted the deadline for the implementation date for the installation of the gadgets extended so that matatu owners have an easy time to install them. No one should complain, what they should be doing is marketing their products to deal with the competition, which they appear to be afraid of,” he added.

Send signal

Implementation of the revised speed devices, according to an initial joint statement issued by NTSA and Kenya Bureau of Standard in November last year, was to take effect from December 1, 2018 although his has since been extended indefinitely.   

In the new regulations,  it will  be mandatory for all the speed devices to have the capability to transmit speed data to NTSA servers and hence the fresh pre-qualification of the suppliers. 

The revised speed governor standard KS 2295: 2018, has been designed in such a way it that requires the suppliers to meet laboratory tests and certain performance and installation-specification requirements. 

Once installed, NTSA, the vendor and the police, through a structured system can be able to monitor the vehicles from the comfort of their offices and in case the driver speeds or disconnects the gadgets, it automatically sends a signal to the authorities, including the location.

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