Private motorists could soon cruise at a top speed of 130 kilometres per hour on the country’s major highways if MPs approve a Bill tabled in Parliament by Kiambu lawmaker Jude Njomo.
The new speed limit will apply to roads with dual carriageways and those classified as Class “A” and B” in the Kenya Roads Act 2007.
The current allowable top speed limit on Kenyan roads is 110 kilometres per hour (kph) on motorways and on the Thika Superhighway, while the lowest is 30kph near schools and road construction sites.
Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) including buses, mini-buses, coaches, school vans, motorcycles and light commercial vehicles that are not a taxi or privately-hired vehicle are required to have built-in speed governors that limit their top speed to 80kph.
The Roads Act defines Class “A" roads as international trunk roads linking centres of international importance and crossing international boundaries or terminating at international ports.
Class “B” on the other hand is defined as national trunk roads linking nationally important centres.
Kenya has 80.9 kilometres of Superhighway and 4,609 kilometres of international trunk roads, bringing the total to 4,689.9 kilometres as at December 2018.
Mr Njomo, the architect of the bank interest rates capping law, wants private motorcars to cruise at 130kph on dual carriage ways, highways and superhighways.
Through the Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2019 that is currently before the National Assembly, Mr Njomo wants slow moving vehicles travelling at speeds of below 70kph to stick to the extreme left lane.
"Every superhighway shall be classified either as Class A or Class B roads, have the lane to the extreme left reserved for slow-moving vehicles and have the maximum speed limit set as follows: One hundred kilometres per hour for public service vehicles including buses, mini-buses, coaches, motorcycles and light commercial vehicles and one hundred and thirty kilometres per hour for motorcars," Mr Njomo says in proposed amendments to section 94 of the Act.
If MPs approve the changes to the law, long distance PSV travellers who ply upcountry routes will get a huge reprieve due to reduced time taken for travel.
The National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) has restricted all motorists operating within boundaries of Nairobi metropolis to a speed limit of 50kph.
Motorists are also restricted to 50kph speed while approaching schools or colleges while the speed for vehicles ferrying pupils is capped at 50kph. The rules prescribe penalties for breaking the speed limits ranging from Sh3,000 to Sh10,000.
The current stringent speed limit rules, popularly known as the Michuki Rules, were introduced in 2004 by the then Transport Minister John Michuki.
The rules were meant to curb rising accidents in major trunk roads as well as in congested areas like cities and near schools and highly-built-up areas.
The latest survey by NTSA shows that a total of 1,410 people had lost their lives on the road as at June 4, compared to 1,279 who died by June 4, 2018.
The survey showed that pedestrians still lead the pack with 521 having lost their lives.
The NTSA has singled out Mombasa Road, Waiyaiki Way, the newly-upgraded Outering Road and Thika Superhighway as the deadliest in terms of road fatalities in Kenya.
The authority’s statistics also show that the lack of footbridges and clearly-designated crossing points are key contributing factors to the fatalities.
The data indicates that private vehicles and pedestrians also continue to bear the brunt of the fatalities.