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New digital licences set for next month

By Frankline Sunday | Published Thu, September 7th 2017 at 00:00, Updated September 6th 2017 at 22:16 GMT +3
National Transport and Safety Authority Director General Francis Meja. [File, Standard]

IN SUMMARY

  • Booklet driving permits to be phased out in three years
  • The documents will be available to new applicants and those seeking renewals

Motorists will starting next month be able to acquire new digital driving licences as the Government phases out the current paper ones.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) yesterday said the new licences would be available to all new applicants and those seeking renewals, with a complete phase-out of the old ones expected in three years’ time.

“Motorists will also find it very convenient and user-friendly since it is the size of a conventional ATM card that you can put in your wallet,” said Director General Francis Meja at a press briefing in Nairobi.

The new licences are equipped with a biometric chip that will contain information about the motorist for identification purposes.

Motorists will also be able to load money on their licences that can be used to settle fines issued on the spot by traffic officers.

Red booklets

The new licences will see Kenya do away with the bulky red booklets that have been in use for decades.

Authorities also hope the features of the new digital licence will help to reduce road accidents by compelling motorists to observe the Highway Code because law enforcement agents will have a merit system to keep score of every motorist’s traffic violations.

“Eighty-five per cent of the problems in our highways are behavioral because of poor driving habits,” explained Mr Meja.

“When motorists know that being rogue on the road will be more expensive for them, they will be compelled to change their behaviour.”

Motorists will however have to pay more to upgrade their licences to the digital version. The cost of getting a three-year renewal is set at Sh3,000, up from Sh1,450.

The NTSA is also confident that the security features of the new licences will make it impossible for counterfeiters to replicate, a big challenge in the transport sector with the current licences.

The phasing out of the old licences has been in the pipeline for more than four years and has been fraught with delays and a court case by bidders.

With the roll-out of the new-generation driving licences, NTSA also plans to start sharing information on drivers with insurance companies. This could see insurance costs go either up or down for individuals depending on their driving history.

Mobile devices

The smart licences will be accompanied by mobile devices that can read computer chips embedded in the licences and used by police officers to key in information whenever a driver is involved in a traffic incident.

Driver information will be accessible through the Transport Integrated Management System (Tims), which has been developed by NTSA for the management of the road and transport sectors.

Fernando Wangila, the ICT director at NTSA, said in a recent interview the smart driving licence was already being tested and had been scheduled for roll-out in July, but that did not happen.

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