Cabinet recently approved the amendment of the Traffic Act and proposed stiffer fines to curb road carnage. The proposed amendments are geared towards dealing with traffic offenses, which account for 25 per cent of accidents in the country.
There has been need for comprehensive reforms targeting our roads. The move is long overdue.
Yesterday’s early morning smash-up on Mombasa Road in Nairobi and the ones catalogued countrywide in just the past week alone are a wake-up call. Over 4,000 lose their lives yearly due to road accidents, says a WHO global status report, the highest in East Africa.
But while we agitate for such reforms that spell stiffer penalties, it should involve more stakeholders, lest we drive away traders and potential investors in the sector. The decision by the Cabinet to approve the proposals in April was welcome but it has taken long for them to be taken to Parliament for debate.
The reforms should be broader, beyond just the roads and health. It should encompass the infrastructure available, expansion and social economic status of the country.
A first conviction on reckless driving will attract a fine of Sh100,000 or imprisonment for two years or both. A second conviction on the same offence will attract a fine of Sh300,000 and or imprisonment for a year or disqualification from driving for a period of two years.
The amendments will review registration and licensing of motor vehicles and issuance of driving licenses. It also says PSV licence holders will undergo a mandatory retesting after every two years.
The proposals seek to deal with the failure of a driver to produce a driving license, driving beyond the stipulated speed limit, driving under the influence of alcohol and causing death from reckless driving.
The traffic amendments will also deal with the issue of un road worthy vehicles, punishment for hit-and-run drivers and the fraudulent issuance of motor vehicle documents.
The proposed amendments should help bring order and sanity to public service transportation and general order from all motorists.