, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 22 – Christmas has come early for motorists in Kenya, often worried about landing in a police cell for infringing minor traffic rules.
No traffic offender shall be held by police for offences punishable by only a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months according to new directions on traffic cases.
The 10-point regulations launched on Thursday by the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet bars officers from locking motorists in cells without first granting them time, place and adequate facilities to pay fines.
The Chief Justice says the new traffic regulations will help in dismantling the corruption cartels within the traffic department and the Judiciary.
“Today we are launching the Pocket Size Directions on traffic cases which are aimed at fast tracking traffic cases; decongestion and dealing with the bottlenecks in processing and adjudication of traffic cases,” he stated.
“These rules are meant to assist such wananchi to pay their fines in a very easy and convenient way. Corruption also thrives when there is no information. This leaflet has been designed to fit a driver’s license folder so that motorists can carry it with them. And they apply to all justice sector agencies including the police.”
He urged motorists “to obtain a copy of this booklet as knowledge is empowerment. I call upon all Kenyans to do that which is right and not give a bribe, even when it would appear cheaper to do so; for in the long run, it is very expensive.”
These directions aim to ensure that those who do not have any disputes on their transgressions will have their cases adjudicated expeditiously and with minimal contact with the courts, “whereas those who plead not guilty will have their cases determined in a timely manner.”
Here are the new directions on traffic cases; No accused persons in traffic cases will be locked up in cells without first being granted time, place and adequate facilities to pay fines or bail.
Traffic courts shall process payment of traffic fines in open court.
Release on reasonable bail or bond conditions pending charge or trial, for all other traffic offenders, shall be fast-tracked.
A suspected offender shall be issued with court summons or a Notification to Attend Court (NTAC) on a convenient date within seven days. The notice shall state charges and indicate the maximum penalty.
The offender must attend court on the date and time indicated in the NTAC to take plea.
Before plea is taken, the magistrate shall ensure that any cash bail collected by the Police from the suspect / accused is available in court.
The offender must remit to court the maximum amount payable for the offence (s) cited if he or she opts to plead guilty in writing upon issuance of the NTAC.
Committal warrant for prison custody will only be issued if the offender is unable to pay the fine / cash bail after reasonable time and facilities.
If the offender does not attend court, the cash bail will be forfeited and a warrant of arrest issued.
Boinnet on his part has urged motorists to cease bribing police officers to help fight the corruption menace within the traffic department.
“Corruption is two ways; the giver and the taker…we will now be able to simplify the matter so that when an individual commit on offence, you don’t have to plead with anybody to pay for the lock jam you find yourself in,” he said.
“We should avoid paying bribes. On the part of my officers, they know that engaging in that kind of behaviour is a serious risk of their career.”
EACC Deputy CEO Michael Mubea however lamented that the war on the deep-rooted corruption menace within the traffic sector has been hampered by some conservatory orders issued in court barring them to arrest police officers involved.
Among the factors encouraging corruption within the Judiciary, Mubea said, is the time wasted by suspects who would rather pay bribe instead of undergoing the due legal process.
To him, he cited heavy fines, complicated court processes, cumbersome process of paying fines as some of factors encouraging corruption on the traffic department.
“We are not going to succeed unless we address these systematic issues so that we can deal with the root cause,” he said.
He called for harmonisation of traffic fines across all parts of the country.
“We are not unable to fight corruption but there are these hurdles we have to surmounts,” he said.
The next EACC operation, he said will focus on the giver, who happens to be the motorist.