NTSA gets free hand in vehicle checks after Uhuru approval

Customers queue for services at NTSA offices in Mombasa. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NMG

The transport agency is now free to inspect motor vehicles at its pace every four years after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law a new Bill, giving the agency the much-needed headroom to deal with a backlog.

The National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) pushed for the amendments to the Traffic Act to allow it to inspect every vehicle that is more than four years from the date of registration at its motion.

The Act previously provided that every car more than four years old from the recorded date of manufacture shall be subjected to inspection by the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit.

“Every vehicle more than four years from the date of manufacture shall be subjected to inspection at intervals to be determined by the authority,” the Bill that President Kenyatta signed states.

The NTSA had asked Parliament to ensure the changes are incorporated in the Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2021, sponsored by Tiaty MP William Kamket.

The National Assembly’s Transport Committee backed the proposed changes by the NTSA arguing it would remove the ambiguity of the vehicle to be inspected.

The NTSA inspects a motorcycle at Sh1,300, three-wheelers and vehicles up to 3,000cc (Sh2,600) while vehicles more than 3000cc cost Sh3,900.

Trucks of up to five tonnes cost Sh2,000 while those of more than five tonnes and heavy commercial vehicles pay Sh4,600 for inspections.

Private car owners pay between Sh2,000-Sh3,500 for the check-up, depending on the vehicle's engine capacity.

Previously, the vehicle inspection fee was capped at Sh1,000 for all categories of vehicles, irrespective of type, size and class.

The new law would give the NTSA the power to hire private entities to conduct motor vehicle inspections on its behalf.

“An inspection under subsection…shall be conducted by the authority or persons authorised in writing by the authority,” states the new law.

There are only 17 Motor Vehicle Inspection Units in Kenya and the changes in the Traffic Act will see the NTSA designate persons or firms to conduct inspections on its behalf.

Last May, the NTSA said it would commence inspecting vehicles that are more than four years old from the date of manufacture on Kenyan roads.

The agency was to inspect all vehicles regardless of ownership in line with Section 16 (2) of the Traffic Act.

In 2019, NTSA issued tough rules on the motor vehicle inspection regulations to tame road carnage.

The new Act further provides tough penalties for drivers convicted of drink-driving. Those convicted face two years in jail or a fine of Sh100,000 or both.

The courts suspended initial penalties for drink-driving which attracted a fine of Sh10,000 or imprisonment for one month.

Those convicted now risk the cancellation of their driving licences for a minimum period of one year.

Drivers caught exceeding speed limits will have their licences cancelled for up to three years, imprisoned for six months and slapped with a minimum fine of Sh20,000.

The new changes to the law further usher in the return of breathalyzers, which the Court of Appeal in 2017 ruled illegal.

The court ruled that the Alcoblow rules, which were them enforced NTSA, were illegal, as they were poorly drafted.

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