, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 13 – Kenyans have been urged to express sanity on the roads, as the festive season gets underway to prevent unnecessary loss of lives in addition to avoiding the punitive penalties that come along with it.
Deputy Traffic Commandant Samwel Kimaru told Capital FM News on Thursday that police would continue implementing the tough traffic laws to reign in on drivers who flout the law.
Kimaru also challenged OCPDs (Officer Commanding Police Divisions) and OCSs (Officers Commanding Police Stations) to take charge of the traffic situation in their areas to ensure that the laws are followed.
“We had realised that OCPDs and to some extent OCSs were just leaving a few officers to manage traffic within their areas. The OCPDs were not serious about traffic enforcement so that new laws are binding to them because they have to take responsibility,” he noted.
He also warned matatu owners and drivers against operating vehicles that do not have fire extinguishers and first aid kits.
Kimaru also urged the owners of private cars and trucks to equip their vehicles with the same gadgets although the law does not require them to.
“Although private people are not mandated to carry first aid kits and fire extinguishers they should. In fact I think we should amend the law to include everyone because these units are there to help you in case of fire and other emergencies,” he said.
The law however requires private motorists who travel long distances to ensure they have a first aid kits in addition to a fire extinguisher.
Kimaru further reminded Kenyan motorists to ensure that they had a certified life saver. The law requires that all life savers bear a Kenya Bureau of Statistics stamp.
He said police officers would be adequately informed of the new traffic laws.
“All motorists must have a standard life saver otherwise they will be charged. And private motorists who go out of their respective municipality areas will be required to carry these gadgets,” he said.
He however warned his officers against abusing their powers while discharging the traffic laws. Kimaru said traffic officers should not shoot at any driver who defies an order to stop saying they should take the number plates of such vehicles and circulate them within the traffic department.
Kimaru noted that police were only required to use such force if they had reason to believe that such vehicles are ferrying armed criminals or during serious riots.
“We have had complaints of an instance where a police officer shot at a matatu that refused to stop but that puts the lives of innocent passengers on board at risk,” he said.
The new law attracted criticism from matatu owners who felt that it was too stringent and would allegedly increase corruption on Kenyan roads.
Matatu drivers stayed off the roads for days, paralysing public transport in various parts of the country, as they called for abolishment of the laws.
The law imposes heavy penalties ranging from Sh10,000 to Sh500,000 fines and imprisonment ranging from 1 year to 10 years for various traffic offences.
Kimaru revealed that scores of motorists had already been arrested and taken to court for traffic misdemeanours including obstruction and overlapping.