Article by Winnie Kabintie
Further to our posting earlier today on the murderous madness witnessed on Kenya’s roads over the Christmas and New period, we thought the following advice and information might of interest and use to Kenya Forum readers.
TRAFFIC COMMANDANT BENSON GITHINJI
Traffic Commandant Benson Githinji was on air early today in the morning during the popular breakfast show hosted by radio presenter Maina Kageni on Classic 105. Even though a section of Kenyans on social media made fun of the commandant’s fake accent during the show, he did shed some light on citizens’ rights as far as traffic laws are concerned aside from highlighting what he and his team are doing to curb road carnage in Kenya.
NEW ‘ALCOBLOW’ BREATHALYZERS
He mentioned that they are in the process of procuring the much dreaded Alcoblow breathalyzers which experts believe are the only way to control accidents caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol. Unlike the previous alcoblows introduced back in December 2005, the new gadgets, according to Githinji, will be disposable after one use per driver.
The alcoblow breathlylzers fall under the recently implemented new traffic rules. Initially, a person caught driving under the influence of alcohol would be required to pay a fine of at least Sh1,000 or serve a sentence of up to three months in prison in the old traffic Laws of Kenya, Cap 403, however with the new Traffic (Amendment) Act, 2012, the penalties have been raised to Sh500,000 and a perpetrator may serve up to 10 years in prison.
MORE SPEED CAMERAS
According to Mr Githinji, over speeding public vehicles are also being monitored by the use of speed cameras which have been installed on some roads across the country and plans are underway to add more speed cameras on all roads. How long this will take, however, is another matter.
POLICE MAY NOT GET IN YOUR CAR, OR TAKE YOUR KEYS
Of interest to this Kenya Forum correspondent was the emphasis placed by Mr Githinji on motorists not to allow traffic police in their cars when stopped for a minor traffic offence. Traffic police officers in Kenya are notorious for impounding vehicles and insisting on taking the passenger’s seat. This is illegal.
It also illegal for a police officer to take the keys of your car from the ignition. Matatu drivers should read this, as should parking attendants working for the City Council in Nairobi!
A RECENT CASE
There was drama sometime back on Jogoo Road when a female traffic cop stopped a couple in a personal car and accused them of an offence only known to her. The couple did not part with the normal ‘kitu kidogo’ something small which in most cases is not always that small and the cop decided to take them to Buru Buru Police Station. She ordered the lady on the passenger seat to take the back seat so that she could occupy the front passenger’s seat but the lady was adamant on staying put, asking the cop to take the back seat instead.
The cop decided to call for back up from other officers after a crowd started gathering. Two more cops responded in record time and the three of them took the back seat and ordered the man to drive to Buruburu Police Station. One thing we can be certain about is that the couple faced several ‘false’ charges at the station.
RIGHT TO DEMAND OFFICER’S IDENTITY
Mr Githinji also highlighted that it’s a person’s right to demand for an officer to identify him/herself through an appointment certificate, or through the name and number normally pinned on their uniform.
In case you didn’t know, when charged with a minor traffic offence, the paper work can normally be done on the spot through what is normally referred to as ‘police or bail bond’. Thanks to modern technology, Kenyans can now pay their fines via Mpesa.
CALL THESE NUMBERS FOR HELP
In the event you get pulled over for any traffic offense, by dialing these phone numbers – 020 8562263/020 8563515/6 – you should be able to speak to a commandant of traffic who will answer any traffic-offense questions you might have. And If you are being harassed by the police, you can call the Diplomatic Police on 020 521446 or 0735 356 506.