A matatu union has moved to court to stop the implementation of new regulations imposing instant fines for minor traffic offences.
The Kenya National Union of Co-operative Staff wants the rules temporarily suspended pending determination of the case, claiming they violate rights enshrined in the Constitution.
It has named Transport secretary (CS) James Macharia and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) as respondents in the case.
Through lawyer George Miyare, the union accuses Mr Macharia of allowing arbitrary rules to be enforced by the NTSA.
The union accuses Mr Macharia and the NTSA of only considering their need for revenue collection at the expense of due process of law in the handling and prosecution of minor traffic offences.
“By imposing mandatory bail of amounts equivalent to the statutory fines, the CS has arrogated himself judicial authority contrary to the Constitution which is also in excess of his powers, the ministerial act is illegal,” union’s Secretary-General Justus Ogeka says in court documents.
Unless quashed, the union says it is “apprehensive that the said rules will unjustly and unlawfully curtail individual liberties and the rights of those in the transport sector as well as the entire public to due process of the law as enforced by the courts,” says Mr Miyare.
Mr Macharia and the NTSA are yet to respond to the suit.
High Court judge Roseline Aburili directed the union to makes some changes in their suit documents when it appeared before her on Monday, October 11.
The Traffic Minor Offences Rules 2016 were gazetted in a notice dated September 23. They prescribe fines ranging between Sh500 and Sh10,000.
Implementation started in Nairobi last week and will be introduced in other counties from next month.
Motorists will pay Sh500 for exceeding the speed limit by between six and 10 kilometres per hour (kph). Exceeding the limit by between 11 and 15kph will attract a Sh3,000 fine while motorists who exceed the limit by between 16 and 20 kph will pay Sh10,000.
Motorists exceeding the limit by between one and five kph will receive a warning.
Failure to fit passenger vehicles with speed governors will attract a Sh10,000 fine while passengers travelling in a vehicle with seat belts, but fail to fasten them will be charged Sh500.
The NTSA rules also provide for a Sh1,000 fine on people who leave any part of their body outside a moving vehicle, a rule that is expected to tame touts who regularly travel hanging on the doors of public vehicles.
Motorcycle passengers without protective gear will be liable for a fine of Sh1,000, same as the bike riders.
Pedestrians have not been spared either. They will pay Sh500 for “obstructing free passage of vehicles,” – a rule that is seen as meant to discourage crossing of roads at non-designated places.