How motorists are losing millions in illegal traffic fines
Motorists are paying millions of shillings daily in fines for non-existent traffic offences in an unprecedented rip-off driven by collusion between police and courts.
The most affected are those who are caught by the speed police.
The traffic law is clear that an offence is only committed if a speed limit is exceeded by more than 20 kph.
If one does 70 kph on a 50-kph stretch or 120 kph on a 100-kph stretch, no offence is committed.
Yet thousands of motorists are charged Sh1,000 for every extra kph above the speed limit.
In Nairobi alone, courts collect as much as Sh1.5 million daily, according to charge sheets seen by Nairobi News.
Much more is paid in bribes by those avoiding the hefty fines and the bruising court process. Section 70 (1A) of the Traffic Act also requires that traffic signs be put up specifying speed limits.
Unbeknownst to many Kenyans, the speed limit on a dual carriage way is fixed at 110 kph, yet the Thika Superhighway has many 100 kph signs.
Traffic police have also been extorting money from private motorists who do not have first aid kits and fire extinguishers yet the law requires that only public service vehicles should have them.
On Friday, the Motorists Association of Kenya safety chairman Paul Kimani said the exorbitant fines encourage corruption.
In court, he said, magistrates take pleas without interrogating the validity of the charge sheet.
“Some law enforcers dictate non-existent offences then state very high fines and jail terms. They know that when Kenyans hear, they will opt to bribe them instead,” Mr Kimani said.
He said 95 per cent of motorists who make it to the courts usually plead guilty so that they can pay fines and be on their way. They do not know that when they do that, they lose merit points on their driving licences.
“When you plead guilty to reckless driving, you lose 14 points. You lose 6, 3 and 6 demerit points when you plead guilty to speeding, obstruction and overtaking without a clear view, respectively,” Mr Kimani said.
“We do not enjoy the Constitutional rights which states that every accused person is entitled to the benefit of the least severe of the prescribed punishments for an offence” he said.
Motorists are also fined way above the stipulated amounts, which is abetted by ignorance of the law.
Traffic Commandant Charlton Murithi however said the claims of corruption and exaggerated fines by the police were baseless.
“Our job as officers is to enforce the law. We do not impose fines on motorists. We arrest those who break the law,” Mr Murithi said.
He added that he was ready to receive any complaints about officers breaking the law.