NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 27 – Parliament on Wednesday concluded debate on changes proposed to the Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2012 which, among other things, seeks to impose life imprisonment for any motorist who causes death by dangerous driving.
Similarly, any person found driving under the inﬂuence of alcohol faces a jail term of up to 10 years, a Sh1 million fine or both.
Joint Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo said the move is to curb the growing incidences of drink-driving which have led to fatal road accidents.
While thanking MPs for supporting the Bill, the Gem MP who authored it said that he was also in talks with the Ministry of Transport to merge provisions of a similar Bill which was approved by the Cabinet recently.
The Bill now moves to the committee stage where the MPs will scrutinise, debate and approve or reject amendments.
“We appreciate to want to reign on the recklessness on our roads. We also have to be realistic to know that if we are to accomplish anything in terms or reducing carnage my way would be the most appropriate way,” Midiwo said.
The Amendment Bill proposes to raise penalties for breaking traffic rules and causing accidents in an effort to restore sanity on Kenyan roads.
“Unless we do something to control our roads, too many people will continue losing lives. We can’t just sit back and watch,” he added.
He also said that that he will be seeking to have talks with the various stakeholders such as the police and public service vehicles operators.
The Bill among others seeks do away with the police attached to the Traffic Department and instead enforcing traffic rules will become the responsibility of the entire police service in an aim to stem the bloodletting on the highways. This has however been opposed by the Traffic Police Commandant and the Matatu Welfare Association.
While Commandant Joseph ole Tito argues the disbandment of the unit will lead to chaos in the transport sector, the MWA says the move will lead to harassment of their members.
Midiwo said the motivation behind doing away with the traffic department was because when accidents occur, regular police officers must wait for their traffic colleagues to act.
“Police should be trained to handle all crimes. It is for us to tell the police what to do, and not for them to tell us what they want to do,” he added.
The police will be restricted to mounting roadblocks only in areas designated and gazetted by the Inspector General of Police as a way of reducing corruption where such barriers are used by police to shake down motorists for bribes.
The Bill proposes that drivers who violate speed limits be jailed for three months or fined Sh20,000 or both.
Those fond of overlapping on pavements or through petrol stations to avoid traffic jams are in for a shock, as they could be fined Sh30,000 or be jailed for three months or both.
It also seeks to have matatu drivers and touts permanently employed, and to hold certificates of good conduct.
Matatu drivers will also be required to undergo a compulsory testing after every two years to ascertain their competence. Those who do not meet the requirements could find themselves behind bars for a year or fined Sh10,000 or both.
To stop the sale of stolen vehicles, owners will now have to hand over the number plates of their cars to the Kenya Revenue Authority before completing the sale. Number plates for vehicles whose insurance lapses for over 30 days will also have to be given over to KRA, which the Bill now vests with ownership of the same.
Motorcycle taxi operators and their passengers must wear reflective clothing and helmets and only one passenger will be allowed at a time. Those who defy the proposed law risk a fine of Sh10,000 or a year in prison or both.
Driving licenses of speed limit violators shall be suspended for not less than three years if the person has exceeded speed limit by more than 10km per hour.