Warrants of arrests are out for suspects of drunk-driving who jumped bail.
The 20 motorists are among thousands arrested between December 14, when the crackdown began, and January 15, The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) said in an advert, on Friday.
“The following persons were given cash bails but have not presented themselves before court and warrants of arrests have been issued,” the advert said, and listed the offenders who contravened section 44 (i) of the Traffic Act.
They now risk up to two years in jail. Road carnage in Kenya is one of the highest in the world, but NTSA chairman Lee Kinyanjui says the campaign against drunk driving was encouraging. The chairman said a strong message had been sent that the habit will not be tolerated.
Having suffered losses since the Breathalyzer was introduced, bar owners have devised new ways of ensuring their businesses stay afloat.
Among the methods devised include hiring of taxis for those who drink above the limit. The patrons’ cars remain behind until the next day.
Besides, big pubs are thinking of bringing on board professional chauffeurs to ferry patrons to their homes after drinking.
Although this is proving to be expensive, bar owners have said this is the only last card on the table for them to maintain customers.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau re-introduced the alcoblow in December after road deaths went above 3,000.
According to the new regulations, those found drunk while driving risk a fine of up to Sh100, 000 or a jail term of one year or both.
The Breathalyzer has now forced several occasional drinkers to give bars and clubs a wide berth, opting instead to indulge in the safety of their homes.
Others have termed the alcoblow test embarrassing, saying they would not want to be subjected to it.
It is embarassing
“I think it is not fair at all when I am driving with my family only for a police officer to bring some gadget that I am supposed to blow. It is embarrassing, these gadgets should be used on those who are caught driving carelessly, that is why CCTV is mounted on highways, just like in other developed countries,” Mr Charles Nyakang’o, a resident in Nairobi’s Highrise estate, told Saturday Nation.
Several bar owners Friday said they had been forced to lay off several attendants owing to reduced business.
The Saturday Nation team that visited pubs along Lang’ata road found several that previously used to be parked with customers largely deserted.
“It is really affecting us, we have tried to adjust by laying off some of our workers but still things are tough. I have never suffered such huge losses since I started this business,” Mr Kariuki Ruitha, the proprietor of Reminisce Restaurant in Lang’ata said.
Claims of the alcoblow being a cash cow for the police in roadblocks have also been brought forward by the bars owners.
“How many people have gone to court since this thing was introduced? The alcoblow is a new avenue for corruption,” Mr Kariuki claimed.
But the Cabinet secretary has maintained that the exercise is bearing fruits since the number of road accidents has significantly reduced.
On the other hand, the Bar Owners Association is challenging the government undertake an analysis of the road accidents and find out how many can be attributed to drunk driving in the city.
“Can he tell us how many people have died along Lang’ata road at night due to alcohol, or Ngong road; most of these deaths you will be told happen on highways,” Mr Mungai Mburu, a bar owner in Karen, protested.
“None of my customers has died after leaving this place because they were drunk, the government should be realistic,” he added.
For Mr Simon Mati, a proprietor at Kengeles Restaurant, the National Authority for the Control of Alcohol and Drugs Abuse boss John Mututho has a personal vendetta against bar owners.
“He was even recently suggesting that night clubs be closed; he is now about to say that operating a bar in Kenya is illegal. The NACADA boss should know that we contribute greatly towards the economy of this country through taxes and employment, why is he killing that then,” wondered Mr Mati.
“The government should rethink this gadget. We do not support drinking and driving, all we say is police should be watching those who are driving carelessly on the roads, not putting a huge roadblock and forcing everyone to test for alcohol,” says Mr Mungai.
The Breathalyzer was last month reintroduced to Kenyan roads years after it was challenged in court over hygiene concerns.
The minister has, however, said the current Breathalyzer is modern, high-tech and hygienic. “Police officers using the gadget will use disposable mouth pieces for different drivers,” he said.