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Monday, August 10, 2020

How traffic officers use speed guns to extort Kenyan motorists

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Speed Guns in Kenya: Traffic officers have gained notoriety in Kenya for using speed-guns to extort money from motor vehicle owners. A spot check by Kenya’s leading weekend newspaper, the Sunday Nation found out that motorists are often charged for speeds they haven’t reached.

For instance, a motorist who spoke to the paper said that although speed print out showed that he was driving at 85 KPH, he was forced to pay Sh. 1,000 for a claim made by the cops that he was driving at 120 KPH.

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“The print out showed that I was doing 85kph on a 110kph road but when I was stopped I was told I was doing 120 kph. I still had to part with Sh.1,000 because they still had all manner of reasons why I am supposed to be charged,” he said.

Ms. Chepkorir Sambu, alleges that she was stopped at Burnt Forest on her way to Eldoret to Nairobi last weekend and asked to pay Sh. 5,000 for speeding nine kilometres per hour (kph) above an 80kph limit.

“There were no signs to confirm it,” she says, “PSV vehicles going to Eldoret that were speeding past 100kph were not stopped and when we raised the issue, they went quiet yet they had been talking to us arrogantly insisting that we pay Sh. 5,000 to be released.”

Apart from Nairobi’s Thika superhighway, most roads are yet to be fitted with signs warning motorists that their speed is being monitored. Most of them also do not have speed limit signs.

It has also become common for officers with speed guns to hide while recording speeding motorists. The motorists are then stopped after some distance and asked to pay fines without been shown proof of speeding.

But NTSA defended the safety authority, saying not all speed guns on the roads belong to them. In 2018, Kericho lawyer Kipkoech Ngetich went to the court seeking Sh. 10 million in compensation after the government failed to prove he was speeding. He had been charged for driving at 114kph along the Kericho- Nakuru highway against a speed limit of 100 kph.

“Some of them belong to the police. Every person has a right to be told and shown that they were speeding because that is what the law demands,” the NTSA said. “As a matter of fact, the purpose having speed guns on the roads is not to make arrests but to slow down people because when you see them or know your speed is being monitored.”

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During the hearing, the police failed to give the court the manufacturer’s specifications of the speed gun that was used to capture the lawyer’s car as it was allegedly speeding. They also could not give the gadget’s maintenance charts as the lawyer argued that the road he is accused of speeding on had no signage showing the speed limit.

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