Motorists who drink and drive have been warned: the dreaded alcoblow operations will be back on Kenyan roads on Friday after a report revealed that 60 people were killed due to drunk driving between October 2 and 4.
The government says it has resorted to re-introducing alcoblow tests in major towns in a bid to control road carnage.
In a statement released on Friday by the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) and the Inspector General of Police, they expressed concern over a spike in accidents, coming soon after President Uhuru Kenyatta relaxed curfew rules to now start at 11 pm.
“Reports further indicate that from 2nd to 4th October 2020, a total of 60 persons lost their lives, of which most of the accidents were attributed to drunk driving,” the statement said.
General statistics documented by the police and NTSA show that road fatalities between January and September this year stood at 2689, compared to 2,655 during the same period last year, an increase of 1.3 percent.
At the same time, motorcyclist and pillion passenger deaths increased by 44.94 percent and 19.44 percent respectively.
Consequently, the National Police Service has been directed to undertake nationwide enforcement operations.
At the same time, drivers will be monitored to check for speeding, lane discipline, compliance with Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licensing requirements and roadworthiness of vehicles.
Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta made several key changes to Kenya’s measures against the Covid-19 pandemic, noting the basic need for personal responsibility if the country is to win the fight.
The president extended the nationwide curfew by 60 days but changed the timings to 11pm-4am.
He also lifted the ban on sale of alcohol by bars and restaurants, much to the delight of members of the public who had long expressed this wish, especially on social media, but noted that the establishments must be closed by 10pm.
Last year, police bosses in Nairobi were ordered to return all breathalyser kits in their jurisdictions to traffic headquarters until further notice.
“Please note that even as we await written instructions, going forward there will be no alcohol blow checks in the county until further notice,” sub-county commanders were told in an internal memo.
Misuse by officers
Kenya had been implementing the use of alcoblow with police officers being blamed for misuse and setting up unnecessary roadblocks in various parts of the country, mainly highways and major towns.
While the checks are meant to weed out drunk drivers by placing them in custody until morning when they could sober up and be charged, corrupt officers had turned them into money-minting ventures.
Section 44(1) of the Traffic Act says that those found driving under the influence are liable to pay between Sh20,000 and Sh50,000 if found guilty.
Corrupt police officers were, however, letting drunk drivers off the hook for as little as Sh2,000 if they were able to raise the cash at the roadblock.
Those who could not raise the money were taken to police stations, where they were slapped with Sh20,000 fines in the morning and an additional Sh7,000 for towing if arrested in Nairobi.