By Cyrus Ombati
NAIROBI; KENYA: Police are now free to start effecting the new traffic law allowing for life imprisonment for drivers who cause death through reckless driving.
This was after transport minister Amos Kimunya gazetted the law but announced the commencement date will be on Saturday, December 1.
A statement from the ministry of transport said Tuesday Traffic Police Department is now legally mandated to enforce the new traffic laws.
“Except for Section 3 that deals with transfer of motor vehicles whose implementation commences on 1st January, 2013, Sections 5 and 42, which require all vehicles four years old from the date of manufacture be subjected to inspection by the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit all other sections in the Act take effect beginning December 1,” said part of the statement.
The section also requires and drivers of PSVs to undergo physical and health fitness examination after every three years respectively.
The Traffic (Amendment) Act criminalises drunk driving as it proposes a stiffer penalty for those found guilty of the offence and anyone convicted of the offence will be fined Sh500,000, a 10-year jail term or both.
The Act comes into effect as the country is still experiencing increasing road accidents, which are largely blamed on reckless driving.
Statistics from the Traffic department indicate at least 2,800 people have died on the roads since January this year.
“A person who, when driving or attempting to drive, or when in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, is under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle, commits an offence and shall be liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to a fine not exceeding Sh500, 000, or both,” the law says.
Motorcycle riders will also be required to wear helmets and jackets and provide the same to their passengers.
The law also demands the riders to possess driving licences and contravention of the law will see owners fined Sh10,000 or jailed for a year or both.
Driving without a licence attracts a tougher penalty as offenders will be jailed for 10 years or fined Sh500,000 or both.
Police say the harsh law is expected to reduce road accidents, which increase steadily during the festive season.
Kimunya also gazetted December 1st as the commencement date for the implementation of the National Transport and Safety Authority Act, 2012.
Matatu Owners Association (MOA) says the Act is punitive and meant to kill the industry. They claimed that they were not consulted during drafting of the law.
The association’s chairman Simon Kimutai said they were consulting lawyers with the aim of filing a legal suit against the Government.
Kimutai noted that the industry contributes heavily in the country’s economy and the law would negatively affect this due to increase in bribery of traffic police officers who nab rogue drivers.