Home' Travel News : December-January 2013 Contents 54 travel news December 2012/January 2013
December 2012/January 2013 travel news 55
I think I shall end the year as I started it,
having a good whinge about all things that
inhabit our roads and the regulations that are
foisted on us the motorists in this Republic of
The new Thika super-highway is indeed a
masterpiece; it's just that no one knows how
to drive on it. How should we know, we've
never had one before -- a super highway that
is. The outside lane is without question the
place to be. Huge trucks stagger along it at a
snail's pace, matatus head straight for it, then
without signalling, head back to the inside
lane to stop and pick up passengers. Just so
you know, there are feeder lanes where all
this should happen. Feeder lanes are meant
to be one-way, aren't they? But instead here
they have been re-invented as wrong way
shortcuts between super highway entry and
It is a zoo out there!
No one is policing it, no one is offering
advice, no one is doing anything about it, and
does anyone really care? Driver education is
required -- we need all the help we can get.
Please, Mr. Minister!
Our boys in blue now have another string to
their bow with the introduction of the Traffc
(Amendment) Bill 2012. In its memorandum
of objects and reasons, a sort of executive
summary, it seems its primary objective is to
ensure that when you sell a vehicle you turn
in its license plates. Failure to do so results
in a Kshs. 30,000/- fne.
You also have to hand in your plates if the
vehicle in question's insurance expires -- you
have 30 days to do the honourable thing!
The second objective of the Bill is to
‘Enhance the penalties for various traffc
offences in order to deter those offenses
and consequently minimise the loss of lives
on Kenyan roads'.
Speeding, or known here more accurately
as Overspeeding, comes under the spotlight
with some pretty serious penalties, perhaps
rightly so. Enforcement has always been
the issue, and this new regime in no way
addresses this. With massive fnes and
possible loss of license, roadside fxes are
most certainly going to reach new levels of
Interestingly, 'a highway authority shall
cause to be placed on or near a road, traffc
signs prescribing speed limits on the road’.
We don't have many of those right now, do
we? So, no sign no speed limit? Hardly, but
it does beg the question.
Roadblocks now require notice in a Gazette,
the fne print however says ‘The Inspector-
General of Police may, by notice in a Gazette,
designate a place along a public road etc...'
the use of the word may opens up all sorts of
interesting scenarios. Shortcuts, or in local
parlance Overlapping, are defned thus:
'In order to avoid a build-up of traffc on a
road, be driven on, or through, a pavement,
a pedestrian walkway or a petrol station, as
the case may be’. This attracts fnes of not
less than 3-months imprisonment or a fne of
not less than Kshs. 30,000/-, or both.
You'll need your eyes tested to take a driving
test and every time you renew your licence.
The modalities of how this will happen is
best left to your imagination.
Matatus come in for some pretty well
deserved heavy handedness. Drink driving,
if convicted, attracts prison terms of not
exceeding 10 years and fnes not exceeding
Kshs. 500,000/-, or both.
Is there a reason why the
terminology of not less and not
exceeding is used almost in the
Apart from uniforms, matatus will be
hammered for overloading, the fne a mighty
Kshs. 20,000/-, ask no questions tell no lies,
then Kshs. 5,000/- per passenger on board
over the limit. Special name badges are
now mandatory for drivers and conductors
and will be issued by the Registrar of Motor
Perhaps the best idea to come out of all of
this is the legislated fxed monthly salary for
both driver and conductor as opposed to
current commission payment system, which
is loosely based on the number of trips and
customers carried per day. How this will
work in practice boggles the mind.
In the Traffc Act there always has been
a provision for the police to issue tickets
for traffc offences, in the example shown
there is even on the reverse an Admission
of Guilt section, which would allow you to
pay a prescribed fne into court, without the
necessity to attend. This we all know doesn't
happen; 'something small' preferred or a
Police bond paid on the spot, usually in the
region of Kshs. 3,000/-, but now rumoured
to be Kshs. 30,000/-, accompanied with a
demand to attend court frst thing the next
In the amended Bill, 'The Inspector-General
of the Police shall cause to be prepared a
document showing the offences set out in
this Act and their (sic) respective penalties,
in a summary form, and the document shall
be made available to all law enforcement
offcers for purposes of enforcing this Act'.
Just imagine being hauled over, a smiling
copper presents a laminated fne schedule,
akin to a menu. Added to that is that the
Traffc Police are forthwith abolished – and
that now all Police Offcers are there to
enforce all laws. Crikey, more mouths to
I'll end on a happy note -- certain segments
of civil society are taking the Government to
court to stop this nonsense. Let's hope they
succeed, matatu strikes aside!
Click HERE to read the new Bill.
I wish you a happy Festive Season and a
Please drive carefully and obey the law...
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