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Government re-introduces alcoblow to curb road carnage

By Cyrus Ombati | December 16th 2013

By Cyrus Ombati

Nairobi, Kenya: Motorists who drink and drive be warned; the alcoblow will be back on Kenyan roads this week.

The government Monday announced the reintroduction of alcoblow to control road carnage.

Transport Secretary Michael Kamau said the campaign to check on drunk driving had been started.

“Motorists found driving when drunk will be arrested and prosecuted. Their vehicles will also be impounded and towed to the nearest police station,” he said.

He said for one to drive, he or she should take at most one bottle but could still be arrested if the breathalyser indicates that they are over the required limit.

He said this is part of campaigns to address the carnage in the country, which is a concern to the government, he added.

He warned law requires that no driver should handle a motor vehicle if he or she has consumed alcohol in excess of 35 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath, 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood and 107 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine.

“Those who are found to be above the limits will be fined Sh100,000 or imprisoned for a term not exceeding 2 years or both.”

The minister cautioned police against using the breathalysers to extort money from Kenyans, saying that OCPDs across the country will monitor their use.

He added at the weekend, random checks were carried out on a section of Nairobi roads and from a total of 50 drivers stopped on Langata road, Westland and Argwings Kodhek, 99 percent were drunk.

The gadget was first introduced in 2006 before being stopped by courts and later in 2010 and later in 2011.

Speaking in Nairobi in company of National Transport and Safety Authority officials and police, Kamau said there have been 5,937 road accidents since January that claimed 3,018 lives.

These include 1,402 pedestrians, 758 passengers, 309 motorists, 272 drivers, 150 pillion passengers and 127 pedal cyclists.

He said most of the accidents are as a result of disregard of traffic laws, which include speeding, overloading and dangerous driving among others.

He said they had launched campaigns, which are aimed at monitoring compliance with traffic laws particularly speeding involving officials from his ministry, police, judiciary and prisons department.

Up to Monday, he said, up to 4,300 motorists who were found speeding had been prosecuted in court in the exercise, which started on November 18 and will end January 30, 2014.

Enhance service delivery

“The objective of the safety first campaign is to ensure that justice on traffic offenders is delivered on the spot,” said Kamau.

He added the authority is also developing a standard curriculum for driver training and testing to help in addressing the problem of quality drivers in the country. It will be ready in January 2014.

The minister said the government is automating and integrating all data in various departments that deal with road transport matters to enhance service delivery.

He told public service vehicles operators to screen their passengers whenever they board as part of efforts to address incidents of insecurity.

The National Authority for the Campaign against Drugs and Alcohol Abuse (NACADA) hasd called for the return of alcoblows or any other tools which law enforcers could use to ensure Kenyans do not drink and drive during this festive season.

Chairman John Mututho said it was unfortunate that traffic police officers do not currently have the means of testing the alcohol levels in drivers’ systems.

 “The law is very clear that drink driving must be proven. But police officers will be doing much more than using the alcoblows. They will even check the fluids that you are carrying pretending to be mineral water when it is actually pure vodka,” he said.

“Nobody wants you in jail or at the morgue. It is even better to see you in January having come from Kamiti than to see you on the papers having died.”

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