Motorists in Kenya are going to be in for a big shock – motorists who break traffic rules or cause accidents may soon find their licences suspended for three years or sent to jail for the rest of their lives.The new Trafﬁc (Amendment) Bill 2012, which tries to restore sanity on Kenya’s roads, has raised penalties for breaking trafﬁc rules and causing accidents. This is a step to stop people from driving under the influence of alcohol and as also to stem bloodletting on the highways.
The proposed law is sure to send a warning to those people found driving under the inﬂuence of alcohol and not capable of controlling their vehicles, that they risk being jailed for up to 10 years or phined Sh1 million or both. There would no more be special traffic police officers and instead enforcing traffic rules would become the responsibility of the entire force.
Those drivers who are fond of overlapping or who drive through pavements and petrol stations to avoid traffic jams are in for a rude shock – they could be fined Sh30,000 or be jailed for three months or both. It also seeks to have matatu drivers and touts permanently employed, and to hold certificates of good conduct. The Bill also proposes that drivers who violate speed limits be jailed for three months or fined Sh20,000 or both. The licence of a person found guilty of exceeding speed limits would be invalid for a period of 3 years if the limit is exceeded by up to 10 KPH or if the offence is repeated more than three times. Licensed drivers must also undergo mandatory eye tests every three years, with those who fail losing their right to drive.
If the Bill is passed by Parliament, it would put Kenya along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as one of the countries with the harshest and strictest traffic laws in the world. The Bill which is sponsored by Gem MP and Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo further proposes that the new laws would be implemented together with the famous ‘Michuki Rules’ for public service vehicles that helped to briefly reduced carnage on roads.
The rules promulgate that every driver and conductor of a public service vehicle shall be required by the law to wear a special badge and uniform as prescribed by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. In the case of a driver, it shall be navy blue, while conductors will wear maroon. The special badges will be supplied by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles for a fee. Matatu drivers will also be required to undergo a compulsory testing after every two years to ascertain their competence. Those who fail the test and do not meet the requirements could be put behind bars for a year or fined Sh10,000 or both.
To put an end to the sale of stolen vehicles, owners will now have to hand over the number plates of their cars to the Kenya Revenue Authority before completing the sale. Number plates of vehicles whose insurance has lapsed for a period exceeding 30 days will also have to be given over to KRA, which will retain the ownership of the vehicles. Failure to do so would attract a fine up to KES 30,000, and a subsequent KES 10,000 for every month the law is not observed.
Motorcycle taxi operators and their passengers must wear reflective clothing and helmets and only one passenger will be allowed at a time. Those who defy the proposed law stand to be fined Sh10,000 or a year in prison in default or both. Motorcycles would have to be insured against third party risks.
The Inspector General of Police would designate areas where Police will be required to erect roadblocks. There will be road signs showing the prescribed speed limits.
The Police spokesman, Eric Kiraithe, welcomed the proposed changes but wanted the public, the judiciary and the police to be involved in order to have a proper and positive change in the traffic laws.
The current Traffic Commandant, Joseph Ole Tito was not happy with the idea of disbanding the entire Traffic Police Department. In his opinion the police force would lose its grip on the traffic situation on the country if the traffic duties were to be spread to the entire force.