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Police warn motorists using illegal ‘VIP’ lights

The National Police Service has directed all traffic enforcement officers to impound motor vehicles and motorcycles with illegal LED lights.

NPS, in a statement issued on Friday, said it has noted several private vehicles, public service vehicles and motorcycles owners have installed the illegal lights.

The crackdown targets motorcyclists and owners of both public and private vehicles.

Police Spokesperson Bruno Shioso said traffic officers across the country have been directed to arrest motorists whose vehicles would be found with the unauthorized LEDs.

Citing the Traffic Act of Section 55 of the Traffic Act Mr Shioso said only vehicles used by the President, Deputy President, the police, ambulances, and fire engines could be fitted with sirens.

“NPS observes that several private vehicles, public service vehicles, and motorcycle owners have; unlawfully equipped lamps, modified illuminating lights, red lights, opaque rear lights, flashing lights, flickering lights, LED illuminating bars, and unauthorized red and blue lights,” read in part the Statement.

According to Section 58 (Sub-Section 1) of the Act, offenders found guilty of contravening Section 55 of the law risk spending two years in jail, or a fine of Sh400,000, or both.

The section says: “Any person who drives or uses on a road a vehicle in contravention of the provisions of section 55 or section 56 shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding four hundred thousand [shillings] or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.”

According to police, the LED lights targeted are unlawfully equipped lamps, modified illuminating lights, red lights, opaque rear lights, flashing lights, flickering lights, LED illuminating lights, unauthorized sirens, and unauthorized red and blue lights.

“Any other vehicle which does not fall in any of the above three classes should not be fitted with a siren for whatever purposes,” he said.

Influential figures, including former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and businessman Paul Kobia, were some of the affected after the sirens on their vehicles were confiscated.

On May 30, 2019, following public outcry on the inconvenience caused to other motorists by VIP and GK vehicles, former Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai issued a directive granting special road clearance to a select list of VIPs.

Those accorded the privilege were classified into five categories. The first had the President, Deputy President, First Lady, and Cabinet Secretaries for Interior, Defence, and Foreign Affairs and Interior PS.

The second had the Inspector-General of Police, Deputy Inspectors of the National Police Service, Chief of Defence Forces and service commanders while category three comprised speakers of the National Assembly, Senate and Majority leaders.

Retired presidents and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga were in the fourth category while ambulances and fire brigades were put in category five.

A few days later, the former IG added the Chief Justice to the list of VIPs.

“All other vehicles are expected to follow the normal traffic flow. We shall arrest drivers flouting traffic rules, especially those overlapping,” he warned.

The emergency lights have flooded the market, making it easy for motorists to access them, especially in downtown Nairobi.

Some are sold as “Police light Led bar, Federal Diplomatic” for as little as Sh8,000 with an extra Sh300 for delivery. Another online shop was retailing a different set of Red/Blue LED lights for Sh3,000.

The crackdown, which takes effect immediately, also targets motorists who are operating illegally with expired driver’s licenses and insurance stickers and also extends to owners of unroadworthy vehicles.

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