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NTSA: Traffic fines set to be reviewed

COUNTIES
By Joe Kiarie | June 16th 2015
National Transport and Safety Athourity chairman Lee Kinyanjui. ON 12/08/14 [PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE/STANDARD]

Motorists will soon pay pocket-friendly fines if an ongoing process to revise harsh penalties for traffic offences succeeds.

Under the proposals, those who plead guilty and pay the fines in time will also avoid appearing in court altogether.

The move to adjust the Traffic (Amendment) Act 2012 and further formulate fresh guidelines comes amid a general consensus that the extremely heavy fines imposed by the current law are unrealistic and have only helped raise corruption levels on the roads.

Already, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has made recommendations on the new fines in a process being spearheaded by the National Council on the Administration of Justice. The body is charged with policy making, implementation and oversight, and is headed by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

"We are working closely with the Judiciary and the police. Parliament will also have to make some amendments and the legislators we have engaged so far are very receptive of the idea," said NTSA Chairman Lee Kinyanjui (pictured), who hopes to have the new laws operational in 90 days.

He said they were seeking specific fine margins.

"We want a situation where if a motorist is caught speeding or driving drunk and pleads guilty, all he/she has to do is pay a fixed penalty of, for instance, Sh10,000. The offence will then be put on record for future reference," explained Mr Kinyanjui.

The chairman said this would address the current situation where courts have the sole discretion over how much one pays - provided it is within the set limit - and where all offences end up in court.

bribery up

He said while the Traffic (Amendment) Act of 2012 was meant to curb recklessness on the roads, an imperfect justice system had seen increased bribery negotiations outside court.

"This is a wearisome process and so much time is wasted in court. Corrupt officers take advantage and enter into underhand negotiations with desperate offenders," he stated.

Kinyanjui said the team would also deliberate over a foolproof system for remitting fines.

The Traffic Act, which was sponsored by Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, received widespread disapproval when it came into force on December 1, 2012, with critics arguing that the harsh fines, some amounting to hundreds of thousands of shillings, were impractical.

The Judiciary has also been hesitant in embracing the new penalties, with the majority of judges and magistrates still slapping offenders will more lenient fines.

The Motorists Association of Kenya, which provoked the ongoing review after writing a complaint letter to the CJ, said the proposed regulations made economic and moral sense.

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