The two key ingredients for corruption on our roads is a desperate driver and a rogue policeman who stands to gain financially. In the end, it’s the Government which loses revenue that is due to it.
We must therefore separate the party that arrests the suspect and the party that receives any form of money from the offender. We must also make it easy for the suspect to reach the courts without the unnecessary inconvenience on the road.
We have had situations where a motorist on a 350km journey is arrested for speeding. He has to wait by the roadside as a policeman holds his licence or alternatively he is taken several kilometres away to a police station to pay cash bail and appear in court later in the day.
All this time, none of the officers want to know the extent to which one is being inconvenienced. It never occurs to them that the inconvenience may be worse punishment than any possible fine that the courts could slap for the offence.
I once had a personal experience when my driver was stopped at the Nyayo Stadium roundabout for causing obstruction by taking the wrong lane. He was driving me to the airport to take a flight to attend a court session in Mombasa. He was told to drive the car to Lang’ata Police Station. My pleas that I would miss the flight were treated as disrespect. I had to alight and take a taxi to the airport as he headed to Lang’ata. Thank God I wasn’t the one driving.
When I arrived back in the evening, the driver narrated to me how the officers interviewed him as to who I was. They then asked him if he could give them something small so that they could release him. He insisted he did not have any money and they ended up releasing him even before he reached the station. They must have realised that he had nothing to give them now that I was gone.
Every Kenyan motorist has a long story to tell of traffic officers and their money manners.
To block these officers from stopping motorists with the sole purpose of collecting bribes, they must carry with them notice to attend court forms, the reverse of which one can plead guilty and pay the stated fines without attending courts. This will maximise the fine collection as a source of revenue to the Government and reduce the time motorists waste on the road as they get ‘frogmarched’ to police stations to pay cash bails for misdemeanours.
It is senseless for a driver of a car registered in Kenya and with a valid insurance to be taken to a police station several kilometres away just to deposit a cash bail of Sh5,000 yet the car can be easily traced in the event that the driver skips bail!
The arguments by the traffic police that many drivers escape after being released on free bail is just an excuse to take the drivers to the police stations for better bargain. In any case, drivers who want to escape will not honour court summonses just because of cash bail of a few thousand shillings.
It is also important to note that it is wrong to punish a whole society just because of a few rogue drivers who can be tracked and arrested easily.
Meanwhile, Kenyans must also learn to face the policemen in courts, for the courts are meant for dispensing justice and finding out the truth beyond reasonable doubt. The police must also prove their cases in court.
Incidentally, many drivers fear the courts just because of the artificial time wasting caused by the coalition of rogue policemen and court officials.
Otherwise, the police have been made to believe that they can always trump up as many charges as they wish because many a driver will always plead guilty just to shorten their inconvenience.