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Kenyans Attribute Rising Road Accidents to Inept Corrupt Police Officers  

The rising number of fatal accidents in the country has been partly caused by corrupt and inept traffic police officers who take bribes and allow overloaded and un-roadworthy passenger service vehicles (PSV) to operate on roads.

Angry Kenyans say police are wholly responsible for some of the fatal accidents that have occurred on the roads in recent days.

Mr. Collins Onyango narrates a bizarre story of the act of some police officers before a very bad accident happened along the Migori – Kisii road a week ago

He says at a spot along the Migori-Kisii highway in Migori County, he witnessed a group of smartly uniformed traffic police officers flagging down a visibly overloaded matatu whose conductor bribed them to continue with a journey that ended fatally a few kilometres away.

The vehicle was allowed to go on with its journey immediately the conductor offered one policeman money but ended up killing three people after it burst one of its tires minutes after being given a clean bill drive off.

I was saddened to see lives lost after the officers waved on the matatu to continue with its journey, with no regard to its un-road worthiness condition besides that it was visibly overloaded,” explained Mr. Onyango.

Another resident of Awendo town Helida Akeyo also condemned the habit of traffic police officers of harassing motorists for as low as Sh.100 to bribe them on the road.

Not even the motorcycle taxi operators commonly referred to as bodabodas are spared in this daylight madness of the police officers who collect bribes on our roads every day at the expense of Kenyans’ lives.

The boda boda operators are forced to part with at least Sh50 for real and trumped-up traffic offenses brought against them by the officers.

Economists estimate that the unscrupulous officers romp into their pockets an amount close to Sh. 1 million every month on the Migori – Kissi route alone.

The traffic unit is a section of the police force that is claimed to have partly contributed to the general rot in the entire force, and which has painted the uniformed men and women as the most corrupt lot in the country.

“The traffic police are our friends. Sometimes they bother us much. But, generally, a Sh50 or Sh100 notes clears things, instead of waiting to be arraigned before the courts’ judges and magistrates who impose huge fines on us for the traffic offences we make,” said a matatu driver Pitalis Makori.

The ever-increasing fatal accidents on the country’s roads and highways are partly blamed on the run-away corruption involving officers in the traffic section.

Kenyans have also accused the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) of raising further corruption stakes on the highways amid a sharp increase in fatal road accidents in December alone this year.

“What these officers are doing on the roads is worse than corruption. It defies beliefs when you watch the officers ask for bribes, flags off a matatu or a bus that drives a few kilometres, and kills a large number of passengers in an accident which could have been avoided if the officers were keen on doing their work,” says Pastor William Okoth.

“It would be better for the Government to find a different category of Kenyans to help bring back sanity on our roads since the force we pretend to give responsibility is unclassifiable,” he added during an interview with KNA recently.

Matatu owners and crews claim that the traffic police unit was a major stumbling block to their business since they force them to part with huge amounts of money every day to bribe their way out of real and imaginary traffic offenses.

In some spots along the same highway, they are forced to buy their freedoms twice within a distance of two kilometers. “You will first have to grease the hands of the traffic police and then drive a few kilometres away to treat roadblock officers who will use all manner of inspections of the vehicle to get something from you,” said matatu conductor Peter Otieno.

Mr. Obungu Misoda, a teacher in Rongo, claimed that the traffic police had turned itself into a syndicate that is tightly run by senior police officers to immorally gain wealth in the country.

He said the time had come for the masses to condemn and help put a stop to the vice to save lives on the many country’s roads.

However, senior police officials in Migori and Kenya in general have in many cases played down the accusations against the traffic officers, saying they are” subjective” and not backed up by research on the ground.

Nevertheless, the police service is on record to have pledged to take action to remedy the situation.

Migori County police say they are taking drastic steps, especially during Christmas and New Year festivities, to tame corruption on roads and end the impunity which encourages this phenomenon.”

By George Agimba

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