State against ‘punitive’ Midiwo Bill on traffic
Posted Wednesday, June 20 2012 at 22:30
The Government is opposed to a Bill which seeks to abolish the Traffic Police Department, among others.
The Ministry of Transport has instead drafted a parallel Government Bill which has already been approved by the Cabinet.
Dismissing the proposed Traffic Amendment Bill as impractical and one-sided, Transport minister Amos Kimunya said on Wedensday that the alternative Bill drafted by Government is comprehensive and based on consultations with stakeholders in the sector.
The Bill currently before Parliament is an initiative of Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo whose war against rogue drivers and traffic police officers has received support and criticism in equal measure.
Debate on the Bill on Wednesday started on a heated note and was later, cut short due to lack of quorum and is now pending conclusion.
Other proposals in Mr Midiwo’s Bill is that the Traffic Act (Cap 403) be amended to vest ownership of motor identification plates on the Kenya Revenue Authority and to require surrender of the plates to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles once a motor vehicle is transferred from one person to another.
The Bill further seeks to enhance the penalties for various traffic offences in order to deter commission of those offences with intention to consequently minimise loss of lives on Kenyan roads through accidents.
Critics have seen these as an avenue for greater corruption by traffic police officers.
Opposing the Bill, Mr Kimunya said the punishment of traffic offences was too punitive to the extent of criminalising accidents.
“An accident is an accident, no one plans for it and therefore punishment should be equal to the offence. We should enhance penalties but within reasonable means so that they are not seen as punitive and criminalised,” he stated adding that the proposals were insensitive to motorists.
“What the Member has basically done is listing the entire Michuki rules and putting them in the Traffic Act,” he added, arguing the Government has its own ways of legislating.
“There is a reason the Government legislates the way it does; we cannot entertain change in practice because it will affect many other areas,” he argued.
The minister said abolishing the Traffic Department would not be a solution, suggesting that the country takes the path of reforming it through the ongoing comprehensive police reforms instead.
The minister pleaded with MPs to allow police power to reorganise themselves.
However, Mr Midiwo interjected saying the minister was talking about a Bill whose existence had not been ascertained since it was not before the House.
He said the House Business Committee, the arm in Parliament which plans the business of Parliament, had delayed his Bill in the hope that the minister for Transport would bring the Government Bill.
Naivasha MP John Mututho dismissed claims by the minister that it could not introduce the Bill in Parliament before Mr Midiwo’s Bill was disposed of.
Mr Mututho, supporting Mr Midiwo’s Bill said the Government was shying away from the realities on roads.