Letters

Smart driving licence secures Kenya's transport

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A sample of the newly launched digital driving licence in Kenya. PHOTO | COURTESY

Summary

  • New drivers are excited to have the power to drive around with a secure plastic card that fits in a wallet, just like a bank card.
  • The new licence embraces international standards in driver licensing and identification.
  • Until five years ago, the licensing system was manual and involved lots of paperwork.

Getting a driving licence (DL) in Kenya these days is like a walk in the park. After booking a driving test online and passing, the next step is to apply for a licence online. In just a few days, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) will issue a Smart Driving Licence that can be collected from many centres.

New drivers are excited to have the power to drive around with a secure plastic card that fits in a wallet, just like a bank card.

The new licence embraces international standards in driver licensing and identification. It is processed on the Transport Integrated Management System, an interactive digital platform that the NTSA launched in 2016.

The TIMS, funded under the World Bank-supported Eastern Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Project, has simplified the application, processing, and issuance of driving licences.

Until five years ago, the licensing system was manual and involved lots of paperwork. Prospective drivers were frustrated by a long and cumbersome process that triggered opportunities for underhand deals.

DL grief

The multi-page DL was renewed annually or for a period of up to three years. The risk of losing or misplacing the slip was high.

Digitising the process ended the grief. The Smart DL has contributed to better management and security of Kenya’s transport system, which serves as the backbone of trade and investment for Kenya and the East African Community.

The new licence also supports the implementation of a demerit point system and can facilitate the payment of instant fines. The demerit point system is designed to weed out careless drivers and enhance road safety.

The NTSA estimates that five million registered drivers in Kenya will be hosted on its digital platform when the government retires the red booklet DL.