In new laws endorsed by Parliament and just awaiting Presidential assent, habitual traffic offenders have got no option but to adhere to the laws or cool their heels in jail for some time.
According to the Traffic (Amendments) Bill, 2012, drunk driving would attract ten years in jail or a fine of Sh500,000 or even both.
“A person who, when driving or in charge of, or during any period of duty in connection with the driving of a public service vehicle, drinks any intoxicating liquor commits an offence and shall be liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years, or to a fine not less than five hundred thousand shillings, or to both,” reads the Bill.
Drunken driving has been linked to some of the deaths on the roads and the Government is keen to rein in on drunk drivers.
The Bill also scraps the Police Traffic Department and puts all police officers in charge of traffic within their jurisdiction.
There were two versions of the Bill, one sponsored by Joint Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo and the other by Transport Minister Amos Kimunya. The two Bills were, however, amalgamated and approved by MPs in one go.
At the same time, owners of public service vehicles would be expected to employ their drivers and put them on a permanent monthly pay. This is aimed at reducing the rush for passengers, as the case is now, as many public service vehicles cash in on the trips to make a kill.
“Every owner of a public service vehicle shall employ at least one driver and one conductor who shall be the holder of a certificate of good conduct issued by the relevant authority,” states the Bill. Failure to adhere to this provision attracts a one-year jail term or Sh10,000 fine or both.
The Bill also targets motorcycles, largely used in rural areas as the major means of transport.
In the Bill, motorcycle operators and their passengers would be required to put on protective helmets and reflector jackets. They will also be required to only carry one passenger at a time, according to the proposed law. Should anyone go against this provision, then a fine of Sh10,000 or a jail term of one year in case of default of payment awaits them.
Driving on pavement
Motorists who have a penchant for driving on pavements or pedestrian walkways would be punished with three months in jail or a fine of Sh30,000 or both.
Reckless and dangerous driving has no room in the new dispensation as it would attract a Sh100,000 fine or two years in jail, for a first offence and Sh300,000 or a jail term of one year for subsequent conviction.
The subsequent conviction also comes with cancellation of the offender’s driving licence for a period of two years.
Abandoning vehicles on the road has also been pointed as a cause of accidents, especially on the highways plied by heavy trucks. Authorities have taken note of this and banned it altogether.
Thus those who go against this provision would cool their heels in jail for a year or part with a fine of Sh50,000 for first offenders.