The Rwanda National Police (RNP) department of Traffic and Road Safety impounded on Monday, 199 public service vehicles, school buses and trucks, which had no mandatory mechanical inspection certificate.
Some 125 vehicles were impounded in the City of Kigali while other 74 were impounded on various highways across the country.
All the vehicles were escorted to the Automobile Inspection Centres for mechanical inspection, according to Senior Superintendent of Police SSP Irené Irere, the spokesperson for Traffic and Road Safety department.
He added that these are continuous countrywide operations to impound vehicles without the roadworthy certificate and to penalize owners for their negligence.
Most drivers of the impounded vehicles, however, blamed their bosses for intentionally refusing to have their cars taken for inspection, when the certificate expires.
Public transport vehicles and trucks are subjected to mechanical inspection every after six months.
“The mechanical inspection certificate for the school bus I was driving expired on November 11, and I had informed my employer even before it expired. I was stopped today in the morning while taking children to school,” one of the drivers said.
He added: “I knew well that driving a vehicle without a roadworthy certificate is a traffic offence but as drivers, we find ourselves on the edge of being fired, if we refuse to drive them, and we have families to cater for.”
Another driver was quick to say that the transport company he works for cares more about money than road safety.
“They just tell you; go to work, we will be booking for the inspection,” another driver said.
The Traffic spokesperson warned owners of vehicles and heads of transport companies for these behaviors of forcing their drivers to drive cars with no or expired mechanical inspection certificate.
“We noticed that there are many public vehicles and trucks with expired mechanical inspection certificate, which prompted these operations.
Mechanical inspection is meant to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy and to prevent road carnage caused by mechanical failures,” SSP Irere said.
“Some of the impounded vehicles had expired certificate while others were operating after failing the first inspection. It is prohibited and a traffic offence to use a vehicle in operations, if it failed the inspection and given 14 days to fix the identified mechanical faults,” he added.
The automobile mechanical status is mandated under the Presidential Decree No. 85/01 of September 2, 2002, which, partly, stipulates that owners of vehicles using public roads without a mechanical inspection certificate will be liable to a fine of Rwf 25, 000.
The vehicle roadworthy inspection tests shock absorber, brakes including handbrake, axle play detection, wheel alignment and vehicle geometry, steering system, headlights, and visual inspection of the vehicle’s body condition, among others.
It further tests fuel emissions to fight greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change.
There are four Automobile Inspection Centres (Remera in Kigali, Rwamagana, Huye and Musanze) and a mobile lane, with the capacity of over 1000 inspections daily.