Police clarify on traffic fines, maintain stance

A single traffic offence will not exceed a fine of Rwf150,000, but reckless drivers who commit multiple offences will part with much more money, Police have said.
A Traffic policeman uses a speed gun to monitor traffic on a highway. (John Mbanda)
A Traffic policeman uses a speed gun to monitor traffic on a highway. (John Mbanda)

A single traffic offence will not exceed a fine of Rwf150,000, but reckless drivers who commit multiple offences will part with much more money, Police have said.

CP George Rumanzi, the commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety, stressed this while clarifying on Police warning issued Monday threatening to increase punitive measures for traffic offenders nine-fold.

“The range is from Rwf10,000 to Rwf150,000, so if an offence was for Rwf10,000, we can [possibly] raise it to Rwf90,000,” said Rumanzi.

“However, if you are driving and haven’t fastened your seatbelt, you’re talking on phone, and maybe, also speeding, among others, you can be charged differently and it goes beyond Rwf150,000. That is at the discretion of the officer is in charge.”

The public outcry was premised on the fact that calculations then indicated that, for example, a single offence of speeding could see the offender part with a hefty Rwf450,000 as opposed to Rwf50,000, the minimum fine.

Multiple offences

“Even though people are crying out against high penalties, I think we shouldn’t only dwell on the amount. Even though one single offence is limited to Rwf150,000, we have noticed that people are committing multiple offences at a go,” Rumanzi said.

“The attitude is, people are pleading asking for fines to be lowered so that they can pay and keep on doing what they are doing. Offences are not accidents, they are preventable. People must understand that we are trying to protect lives”

Law of 1987

Rumanzi said the public was getting it wrong by thinking that the issue of multiplying fines nine times was brought on board when it was mentioned on Monday.

“This is not the case as this has been in the law for the last two decades only that the practice was that law enforcement has been taking the lower part of the offence. The law has always allowed us to do that but we have always considered the bare minimum of an offence. We had that room [of fining] as set by the law.”

Rumanzi was referring to Law number 34 of September 1987 relating to Traffic Police and Road Traffic whose Article 42 stipulates multiplication by nine times.

Encouraging bribes?

“I have heard some [people] complaining that it would encourage corruption. I heard one say that ‘instead of paying Rwf200,000, I will pay a Police officer Rwf50,000’ but, remember, if you do that, you will be committing a criminal offence,” the Traffic Police chief warned.

The minimum penalty for driving a vehicle in a poor mechanical condition (without a valid mechanical inspection certificate) is Rwf25,000, while speeding goes for Rwf50,000. 

Driving without a licence goes for Rwf50,000. Speaking on the phone while driving attracts a single minimum fine of Rwf10,000.

Last month, Police announced that it had recorded at least 1,324 road accidents between January and June, with 97 deaths.

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