Petty Corruption and The Killer 100 bob Cop On Garissa-Nairobi Route
Buses plying Garissa-Nairobi Route lose more than a million shillings a month to corrupt traffic cops. 100 Kenya shillings could be costing us lives as bus companies lose millions to corrupt police officers and in turn ignore faults leading to accidents.
A day after a grisly bus accident resulted in the death of 56 Kenyans and many other seriously injured passengers, we did a quick check on buses plying the Garissa-Nairobi route. Our check indicates petty corruption and collusion between bus owners and the police may be a small but significant factor in many accidents and the subsequent lose of innocent lives. Employees and the police officers appear to have thrown caution to the wind, although some of the owners we spoke to said they have put in place some mitigating measures such as employing bus inspectors and disallowing one driver to go behind the wheel for more than 24 hours to minimize accidents.
Travelling from Garissa, I lost count of the more than 15 road blocks manned by at least 5 police officers excluding the 3 main stops that usually stop buses and ask passengers for their ID cards. These are at least 75 police officers who should instead be based in towns and at the border protecting citizens. In Garissa bridge, passengers are asked to come down the bus and queue to present their ID cards. The tragicomedy scene of young boys and girls with no ID cards frogmarched to the small cubicle and the conductors haggling with the police over the price of their freedom befuddled me. Our statistics reveal that 99.9% of the time all the people traveling to Nairobi possess the dreaded ID Card (the colonial kodi), got papers to show that they have the legitimacy to travel or are young to own an ID card. The inconvenience and the time wasting-tactics of those manning the road blocks is not commensurate with the lost man hours, the non-existent security threat and the trouble the elders and the womenfolk who have every right to travel to wherever they want go through. The policy of taking people off buses serves no purpose other than subjugating them and showing that they have to proof they are citizens! I thought this should be happening at the borders not in Garissa.
From my observation, the traffic police personnel manning the unnecessarily numerous road blocks have one priority; the 100 0r 50 bob dropped by the bus conductor from the windows. The bus could be running with faulty tryes waiting to explode any minute, failing breaks minutes from an almighty grisly accident just like the one that caused yesterday’s accident or any other fault that neither the police nor the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) bother to check as long as the 50 or 100 bobs keep dropping for those manning the road blocks.
Conversation with bus employees reveals that it costs bus companies over a million shilling a month. Corrupt police officers manning these road blocks keep arbitrarily increasing the number of stops and not only increase the money lost by the companies to corruption but also waste passengers time.
Accidents Waiting to Happen
The bus companies ignore many mechanical faults that could proof disastrous. When we asked the employees, they say some of our minor mechanical faults are papered over and ignored by the officers. ”The NTSA are quite expensive and the 100 bobs thrown for the regular traffic police is considerably gentler for us” one bus employee adds. Unfortunately both the regular traffic police officer and the NTSA officers prioritize greasing of their hands by the bus owners to the safety of the passengers. It is not surprising but all the same shocking that the passengers hardly take interest in the vehicles transporting them. They never question why bus employees are willingly parting with their money if the vehicles are safe as transport medium.
Next time you hear of accidents in our roads we could as well be playing with semantics. Accident is ”an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally……..”. What is happening in our roads is actually not by accident. One can not plan an accident and call it a mishap.
The corrupt police officer manning the road block, the willing bus owner and the uninterested passenger all play a role in the planning of these accidents.