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Traffic policing about more than road deaths

By | September 30th 2009

As Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere noted on taking over at Vigilance House, traffic matters are central to improving law and order. It is not just the death toll from accidents: Although one of the world’s highest when considered against the vehicle population, it is little greater than the murder rate and much lower than that from other causes. It is the fact that indiscipline in this area contributes to a deterioration of public order.

Petty corruption in the police force has seen it repeatedly lead in bribery indices or lists of ‘most corrupt’ institutions. A good deal of this begins in traffic departments, where offences are often minor and offenders plentiful, conditions perfect for bribery. Only the enforcement of liquor licensing and prohibition laws comes close to being as good a cash cow. Ensuring the strict enforcement of laws, thus, cures corruption —which bleeds into other areas of law enforcement — and reduces needless road carnage.

The crackdown on public service vehicles violating of the ‘Michuki Rules’ that started shortly after Iteere was appointed should continue alongside reform limiting avenues for graft. While this will not prevent the human error factor, it will force more drivers to change their behaviour.

Kill many birds

Given the huge number of inmates held on liquor law violations, and the propensity for this illegal industry to keep the police corrupt, this should be a priority once the traffic department’s issues are addressed. Iteere has an opportunity to kill many birds if he picks his stones wisely.

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