Kenyan drivers are set to start receiving electronic licenses starting May according to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA). This is definitely a major turning point Kenyan road network.
The new electronic card will bear your biometric information and will have an e-wallet so that in the event that you are caught committing a traffic offense, instant fines can be paid through the electronic card. This card will carry the drivers’ profile including driving history.
NTSA director-general Francis Meja says that the new digital license will enable traffic officers to collect fines from motorists via a special electronic gadget. Meja added that the wallet could be used to make other payments such as fuel but its key role is to serve as a mode of payment for traffic fines. He was speaking during a CEO’s forum organized by the Vision 2030 secretariat board.
The instant fines will apply to minor offenses such as speeding, lack of protective gears for motorcyclists, failure to fasten seat belts, and driving on footpaths. NTSA says that the fines will range from Ksh. 500 to Ksh. 10,000.
At present, motorists caught violating traffic rules, even minor offenses, are required to appear in court. This process is time-consuming and is seen to encourage corruption and bribery. Smart licenses are here to save time and at the same time manage the high corruption levels that are evidenced on our roads.
NTSA is among government agencies that have made most of their services available online. These include inspection booking, transfer of ownership, issuance of driver’s license, and renewal of licenses.
Taking too long? Talks about the introduction of the electronic licenses had been ongoing in 2016 but they came to a halt after courts blocked NTSA’s attempt to introduce instant fines.
At present, more than 5 million drivers are licensed via paper-based licenses. These can be easily forged. The digital licenses come with a secure computer chip containing the holder’s information which can be read through electronic gadgets owned and managed by NTSA. These will be hard to forge.
In 2015, the National Bank was awarded the tender to develop the smart licenses after beating 22 bidders.
Smart licenses and reduced corruption cases
The electronic licenses are welcome but I am not sure that police officers share these sentiments. They may no longer pocket the thousands of shillings they have been receiving per day. Meja was quoted saying that the smart license will help eliminate corruption and bribery cases in the transport industry.
Drivers will not be totally off the hook after paying the fines since the smart card comes with points which will be deducted each time the driver commits an offense. If and when the points are exhausted, the license will be confiscated for a specified period of time.
NTSA has been pushing for a law that proposes a one-year jail term for those caught using suspended licenses. The transport authority is pushing to have the law implemented without bail.
License on smartphone
Some parts of the world are way ahead as they are considering introducing a digital version of a driver’s license that resides in smartphones. This could be the driver’s license of the future.