NTSA buys cameras for speeding night drivers

A traffic police officer uses a speed gun to monitor the pace of vehicles. PHOTO | FILE
A traffic police officer uses a speed gun to monitor the pace of vehicles. PHOTO | FILE 

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has announced plans to purchase mobile night vision speed cameras, moving closer to putting motorists under 24-hour surveillance on Kenyan roads.

NTSA made its intentions known through a tender it has floated for the supply of 30 gadgets, which are capable of monitoring vehicle speeds during the day or night and in all weather conditions.

Currently, the agency only has day speed monitoring cameras that have rendered it unable to catch speeding cars at night.

Official road carnage data shows that night driving accounts for the majority of fatal accidents on Kenyan roads, mostly from speeding.

“We’ve been having a challenge because we are not able to detect speeding in the dark,” NTSA director-general Francis Meja said.

NTSA data shows that the majority of accidents happen between 7 p.m and 10 p.m.

Mr Meja said the initial batch of night speed cameras will be spread out to high risk roads, including the Northern Corridor that stretches from Mombasa to Malaba, the Nairobi-Narok-Bomet road, Thika Road and Mombasa Road. Speed limits on Kenyan highways are varied – often depending on road type, the terrain and vehicle purpose.

The maximum allowed speed on a dual carriageway is 110kph and 100kph on a single carriageway.

Public service vehicles and other commercial vehicles have a speed limit of 80kph on all roads while a vehicle drawing a trailer is not allowed to do more than 65kph.

All cars are limited to 50kph on urban roads and trading centres.

NTSA has received World Bank assistance to purchase the cameras for delivery in January next year.

Mr Meja said the high sensitivity cameras are capable of measuring the speed of vehicles moving at between 0 and 320kph and can capture speeds within a range of one kilometre.

The gadgets also have capability of recording and saving videos that can be downloaded via a USB portal connection. It can also be used at a stationary point or on the move.

Speeding has been described as one of the primary reasons for the relatively high number of deaths on Kenyan roads as a ratio of the vehicle population.

Data from the NTSA shows that in the period from January to October 20 this year, a total of 2,384 people had died on Kenyan roads – a 0.4 per cent drop from the 2,394 who lost their lives in a similar period last year.

Records show that pedestrians hit by speeding motorists account for most of the deaths.

This year for instance, 883 (37 per cent) of those who have died in motor accidents were pedestrians.

Despite the mandatory speed governors for PSVs, vehicles from multiple companies and saccos are tampering with the gadgets, making the initiative ineffective and necessitating the speed cameras.

In September, five public transport saccos including Narok Line and Daima Connections were suspended for speeding. NTSA had in August named PSV operator 2NK as the highest offender with its vehicles having 702 speeding violations in one week.

“In Kenya, the economic cost of road crashes is 5.6 per cent of the GDP, Sh300 billion annually,” the transport regulator says. Thika Road, Mombasa Road, Waiyaki Way and Eastern Bypass remain the most dangerous roads in Nairobi. The Northern Corridor, which traverses 11 counties contributes, a fifth of road fatalities.

The use of speed cameras has been complemented by the introduction of instant fines with those caught speeding paying the penalty immediately and proceeding with their journey.

Motorists pay Sh500 for exceeding the speed limit set for their vehicles by 6-10kph.

Exceeding the set speed limit by between 11 and 15 kph attracts a Sh3,000 fine while motorists who exceed the limit by between 16 and 20 kph pay Sh10,000. Motorists exceeding the speed limit set for their vehicles by between one and five kph receive a warning.