Police have devised a new way of taking bribes from motorists that shields them from being captured on the newly installed CCTV cameras in Nairobi City, Nation investigations show.
The officers are now dragging motorists to an illegal parking set up just next to Central Police Station from where they extort bribes before setting the suspects free.
Rather than allowing the suspects to get into the station’s compound, the officers break the rule and allow them to park at a steep bend of the University Way-Moi Avenue roundabout.
The vehicles pile up on the busy road all day—exposing speeding motorists to the risk of causing accidents.
Oil officers hands
Those who end up at the illegal parking, from where they are hauled before courts if they refuse to oil the officers’ hands, are those who refuse to bribe their way out before they reach the illegal parking.
Confronted with the facts, Central Police Station chief Patrick Oduma said it was unfortunate such incidents could take place outside the station. He said the vehicles are parked outside due to lack of space inside.
“Now that you have told me, I will initiate my own investigations,” he said, and promised to arrest the rogue officers. He said the illegal parking, he said, was chosen due to its proximity to the station.
Mr Oduma asked motorists who are asked to bribe the police to be released to report the matter to his office.
Head of Parking in Nairobi County Tom Tinega accused the police of turning the road into an impounding yard. “The station has big space. Why do they use a road? There is no law that allows police to use a road as a parking space, this must stop,” he said.
Motorists interviewed said they prefer to bribe before reaching the illegal parking to avoid hefty fines in court. Those who fail to raise the demanded cash are asked to drive to Central Police Station where they park vehicles inside before the driver and turnboy are summoned to the court.
But cooperating drivers are instructed to park their vehicles on University Way, where a lane has been changed into a parking space.
The officers normally take the driving licences of the drivers until the owner pays the amount asked.
“I came here because I had not raised Sh1,000 at the time of arrest. So I called the owner and they took my licence until the owner brings the money,” a driver said.
Wrong side of traffic
“They do not want M-Pesa, they want it in cash. So they are waiting, they told us to park here,” the driver of one of the buses in the Double-M fleet added.
According to another driver, who was once caught on the wrong side of traffic, he had to pay a Sh2,000-bribe to be freed.
“They brought me here. I thought they would book me for appearance in court, but after I agreed to pay Sh2,000, they left me to go,” he said.
The presence of Big Brother in town is yet to record cases of police taking bribes openly.
“They know the CCTV may capture them; that is why they take us around town and when they are sure they are not seen, negotiations begin. Those of us who cooperate are released, those who don’t are forced to drive to Central, where the owner is involved and that means one has to pay at least Sh2,000 to the officers,” Mr Macharia says.
For years, police have remained the undisputed bribe takers in surveys conducted by TI-Kenya.