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Why new traffic rules will increase corruption in Kenya

In the next 30 days the government will start imposing instant fines on minor traffic offences.

Justice John Mativo on Monday declined to scrap the minor offences traffic rules which require instant fining by police for those who plead guilty.

The case filed by National Union of Cooperative Staff termed the move to be unconstitutional arguing imposing instant fines denies the alleged offenders the benefit of court trial, natural justice and restrict access to court.

The following are the 15 minor traffic offences to be fined on the spot:
1. Driving a vehicle on a footpath will warrant a penalty of Ksh 5,000
2. Failure to refund fare paid for incomplete portion of the journey for which full fare has been paid warrants a penalty of Ksh 3,000
3. Motorcycle passenger riding without protective gear will pay a fine of Ksh 1,000
4. Failure to wear seat belt while motor vehicle is in motion will attract a fine of Ksh 500
5. Failure of owner of vehicle to have seat belts in motor vehicle warrants a penalty of 1,000 for every seat that is not fitted or is not of the proper standard or specification.
6. A driver using a mobile phone while the vehicle is in motion will pay a fine of Ksh 2,000
7. Travelling with part of the body outside the moving vehicle will attract a penalty of Ksh 1,000
8. Passenger alighting or boarding a minibus or matatu at a place which is not authorized at a bus stop or terminal will be charged Ksh 1,000
9. Touting will attract a fine of Ksh 3,000
10. Failure of PSV driver or conductor to wear special badge and uniform will be charged a penalty of Ksh 2,000.
11. Unlicensed person driving or acting as conductor of a PSV will be penalised Ksh 5,000
12. Owner or operator of PSV employing an unlicensed PSV driver or conductor will be charged Ksh 10,000
13. Failure of PSV to carry functional fire extinguishers and fire kits warrants a penalty of Ksh 2,000
14. Learner failing to exhibit ā€œLā€ plates on the front and rear of the motor vehicle will be charged Ksh 1,000
15. Failure of vehicle to carry reflective/warning signs will warrant a fine of Ksh 2,000

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Police officer fining a bodaboda rider. Photo/courtesy

The question is whether the money collected for this cause will be secure and will serve its legitimate purpose.

Imposing fines is the work of the court but not police officers and this is like devolving the work of a judge.

The new rule is expected to give police officers more powers and will allow them to be judges which is not their work and will give room to even more harassment by police officers.

The police traffic sector has always been on the spotlight on corruption issues and giving them this powers will even strengthen corruption in the sector.

According to Justice Mativo if payment of fines is automated it can eliminate corruption and serve the legitimate purpose.

It will take time for the system to be automated when the rules take cause.

Instant fines also locks the alleged offenders into paying a fine without being given the right to presumption of innocence pending trial.

The government should find out other means to observe the law on our roads than giving the police a right to impose fines instantly.

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