The High Court has suspended new regulations that provided instant fines for minor traffic offences.
The rules introduced instant fines ranging from Sh500 to Sh10,000 for offences such as talking on the phone while driving or exceeding speed limits.
Justice Roselyne Aburili on Monday ordered that the rules be blocked temporarily, meaning motorists can be arrested or have their vehicles towed to police stations for minor offences.
“An order is granted that the enforcement of the traffic rules (minor offences) 2016 promulgated by the Transport Cabinet Secretary and being implemented by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) be stayed and suspended forthwith,” Lady Justice Aburili said.
A matatu trade union, Kenya National Union of Co-operative Staff, challenged the regulations in court last week.
They were gazetted on September 23 and were being enforced by NTSA.
Through lawyer George Miyare, the union sued the NTSA and Transport secretary James Macharia claiming the rules violated matatu sector workers’ rights to a fair trial before a court.
Justice Aburili ordered that enforcement of the regulations be immediately halted pending the hearing and determination of the case.
The instant fines scheme started in Nairobi two weeks ago following the publication of the charges in the Kenya Gazette and were to be introduced in the rest of the counties next month.
According to the rules, motorists who exceed the speed limit by between six and 10 kilometres per hour (kph) are fined Sh500.
Exceeding the speed limit by between 11 and 15 kph attracts a Sh3,000 fine and Sh10,000 between 16 and 20 kph.
Motorists exceeding the speed limit set for their vehicles by between one and five kph receive a warning. The new rules have not spared pedestrians who will pay Sh500 for “obstructing free passage of vehicles,” a rule that is seen to discourage crossing roads at non-designated places.
Currently, motorists caught committing traffic offences must face the courts.
Failure to fit passenger vehicles with speed governors will attract a Sh10,000 fine while passengers who fail to fasten t belts will be charged Sh500.
The NTSA rules also provide for a Sh1,000 fine on people who leave a part of their body outside a moving vehicle, a rule that is expected to tame touts who regularly hang on doors of moving public vehicles.
Motorcycle passengers without protective gear will be liable for a fine of Sh1,000, same as the bike riders.