After years of appearing in court to represent clients tangled in the crosshairs of traffic offences, 28-year-old lawyer Edwin Githinji Thiong’o has found another way to lend a hand.
It is an app that not only highlights motoring laws, but is also a 24-hour hotline for lawyers and bailiffs.
Mr Thiong’o targets using the Kenya Traffic Offences and Penalties Guide (KTOPG) application as a way of dealing with motorists’ ignorance and apathy in traffic law. It can also bail you out.
The app contains the Traffic Act and highlights all offences and the punishment that come with taking the wrong turn. This will help motorists to avoid breaking the law but also arm them so that they are not slapped with non-existent charges.
Mr Thiong’o formed Goosetech Innovations to further his interest in software development.
Mr Thiong’o is a managing partner at J Ngaii Gikonyo & Company Advocates, but is also a self-taught software engineer.
“A majority of traffic offences are as a result of either ignorance of the law or of the associated penalties. If the motorists are well educated then the rate of offences can drastically go down,” he says.
KTOPG will be available to Android and Windows-phone users starting Monday next week at no cost.
The idea, however, was inspired by a fender bender he was involved in. When a motorist is involved in a collision, all he or she needs to do is take a photo of the scene and use the application to send it to their insurance company, hence speeding up the process of determining which party is to be compensated.
He is in talks with insurance companies in efforts to maximise use of the application to ease the post-accident procedures for compensation.
“Someone once hit my vehicle from the rear and I thought because I am a lawyer I knew the processes but to my surprise once I stepped out of the vehicle I became as confused as any other motorist would,” he offered.
“I thought of developing a digital checklist that drivers can fill out and even share with their insurance agents or companies through email.”
KTOPG was tested in collaboration with the Parklands Police Station for three months, and now he is through with the changes.
The accident manager feature has an address book with numbers to lawyers and bailiffs.
The bailiffs help motorists who have already been charged in court and given bond terms by settling the amount and recovering it once the case has been concluded.
The app aims at cutting down the number of motorists languishing in police cells because they are unable to raise cash bail or access legal assistance.
Mr Thiong’o says the tool can also help to reduce corruption on the roads and rebuild confidence in the police that offenders granted cash bail will show up in court.
“This feature will again reduce the need to give bribes for the fear of losing your liberty. To be honest, people part with more money than they should even where the fine is a number of times lower than the bribe,” he adds.
The lawyer is also in talks with bailiffs to secure a partnership.
Despite the demanding nature of both law and software development, Mr Thiong’o has managed to strike a balance between the two fields.
“Goosetech Innovations Limited has a board comprised of my older business mentors who run through our decisions and critique and input. With a small management team, I am able to concentrate on my law practice while my management team oversees the administration,” he says.
As a geek, he has also come up another app, which, he uses to manage his law firm and is now reaching out to close friends to help review it and correct any glitches.
A commercial version will be available later this year, he told Business Daily.
The application helps clients to interact with the law firm at the comfort of their homes or business premises. Law Firm Manager tracks cases and makes payments and also keeps a calender of all cases a law is handling.
It sends messages to the advocate handling the case and his clients when they are required in court and how far it has gone.