Economy

Bill seeks tougher penalties for motorists who damage facilities

rails

Damaged guard rails on Thika Road near Kahawa Sukari. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

Summary

  • The Infrastructure Protection Bill, which is being developed by the ministries of Information, Energy and Transport, proposes repairs for the damaged facilities be included in insurance covers.
  • The proposed law comes in the wake of increased destruction of infrastructure by motorists involved in accidents.

Motorists who destroy electricity poles, street lights and road or rail guards are set to start paying heavy penalties for the destruction if a proposed law is passed.

The Infrastructure Protection Bill, which is being developed by the ministries of Information, Energy and Transport, proposes repairs for the damaged facilities be included in insurance covers.

This will be an addition to the current law, which spells out a fine of Sh100,000, a jail term of three years or both for those who steal electricity cables and transformers.

The proposed law comes in the wake of increased destruction of infrastructure by motorists involved in accidents.

“We want to borrow from Rwanda, where they penalise motorists who destroy electricity poles an equivalent of Sh150,000,” said Energy secretary Davis Chirchir.

“We will be working with insurance firms to ensure that motorist also insure for third parties, including the street lights, electricity poles. Before they are paid for repair of their vehicles, they must first pay for the damages.”

He added that the cost of repairing destroyed railings and vandalised lights and metals is costing the government a fortune, hence the need to put in place punitive measures.

The Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) in December introduced penalties on speeding motorists to protect Thika Road from the destruction. The Bill is working to anchor the measures in law.

Information Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i said telcos lose billions of shillings annually to vandals as well as fibre cuts by malicious people and road contractors. The Bill seeks to instil discipline among Kenyans by imposing punitive penalties.

“The legislation will bring order in how we govern our ICT sector and also protect the investments,” he said. “At the moment no one compensates for the damages, which are very costly, impacting on the uptime, quality of service and cost of doing business.”

Among other proposals, the Bill wants a motorist who destroys road or rail infrastructure by accidents due to speeding be held liable and meet the cost of repair.

It also proposes road contractors put in place utilities duct during the building to avoid multiple digging on the roadside by telecoms or electricity service providers.