The planned introduction of instant fines for minor traffic offences in the next 30 days is a laudable move.
The current system is time-wasting and prone to bribery and extortion. There is no good reason for petty offenders to be arrested on the road, detained and later hauled to court, clogging a judicial system that has for years been reeling under the burden of a backlog of cases.
For motorists who have had nasty encounters with the police and spent, sometimes, the whole day in court, the convenience of the instant fines is worthwhile.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said this is a way of enhancing the judicial process and reducing the number of suspects in remand over traffic offences.
We fully agree with Dr Matiang’i that it does not make economic sense to keep up to 6,000 people in remand and feed them as they wait to be tried and fined little amounts of money.
However, there is also some understandable apprehension about the implementation of the new system.
This is more so considering the tendency by some corrupt law enforcement officers to exploit even well-meaning initiatives for their personal gain.
Some have asked why Dr Matiang’i would want to create yet another avenue for corruption for wayward traffic police officers.
Definitely, alive to the possibility of the abuse of the new system, the ministries of the Interior, ICT and Transport have set up a task force that is expected to come up with the new rules.
This will ensure that the fines are paid and the money actually reaches the government coffers.
The truth is that even the smartest payment systems get breached through collusion with insiders. Instant fines must never be paid in cash but by mobile money, within 24 hours or the offenders’ cars are impounded to enforce compliance.