Nairobi — President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday signed into law amendments to the Traffic Act that are geared towards dealing with traffic offenses which account for 25 percent of accidents in the country.
The amendments will review the registration and licensing of motor vehicles and the issuance of driving licenses.
They also seek to deal with the failure of a driver to produce a driving license, driving beyond the stipulated speed limit, driving under the influence of alcohol and causing death from reckless driving.
The traffic amendments will also deal with the issue of unroadworthy vehicles, punishment for hit and run drivers and the fraudulent issuance of motor vehicle documents.
The amendments will increase by tenfold traffic offences fines. For example, a first conviction on reckless driving will attract a fine of Sh100,000 or imprisonment for two years or both. A second conviction on the same offence will attract a fine of Sh300,000 and/or imprisonment for a year or disqualification from driving for a period of two years.
The amendments which were proposed by Transport Minister Amos Kimunya are expected help bring order to public service transportation and general order from all motorists because it will require all PSV license holders to undergo mandatory retesting after every two years.
Other notable amendments are that the Inspector General of Police will designate areas where check points will be mounted.
Drivers and conductors of public service vehicles will be expected to wear special badges and uniforms.
In addition, they will undergo compulsory tests after every two years to ascertain their competence.
The Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) had asked President Kibaki not to assent the Traffic Amendment Bill.
The association threatened to go court if the Bill becomes law. MWA national chairman Dickson Mbugua said some aspects of the Bill were unacceptable such as a penalty of life imprisonment for drivers who cause death by dangerous driving.
"No driver in his sound mind would intentionally cause an accident or kill pedestrians. It is through mechanical breakdown or deplorable infrastructure or environmental hazards," he said in June.