Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai has ordered traffic officers to stop erecting road blocks or conducting traffic checks on highways without their seniors’ permission as he moves to stem rampant corruption on Kenyan roads.
Henceforth, traffic check points and road blocks on highways must be approved mounted only with the express authority of regional and formation commanders, and must be justified and rationalised, the IG said Wednesday.
Speaking to the Nation, the IG clarified that he has not banned road blocks, but was simply streamlining traffic management, which will see regional and formation commanders directly responsible for traffic affairs in areas under their control.
The measures follow numerous complaints by the public about traffic officers who use road blocks to extort money from motorists.
Traffic officers had complied by Wednesday and removed road blocks and check points from highways across the country, although the move took many of them by surprise.
Western region police commander Mr Rashid Yakub confirmed the changes had been effected to deal with corrupt traffic officers tainting the image of the National Police Service.
“We are no longer going to have traffic police officers on the roads for the sake of it. We have established that all the officers do is harass motorists and collect bribes of Sh 50 and Sh 100 from them while pretending they are enforcing traffic rules,” said Mr Yakub.
Deputy Kakamega Central Sub-County police commander Mr Sammy Nyongesa said respective Sub-County police commanders will in charge of traffic operations in the regions.
The regional police commanders will give directions on traffic operations in the regions.
Mr Yakub said the changes had been made following an outcry from the public and motorists who complained about the conduct of police officers soliciting bribes from members of the public.
But he issued a stern warning to motorists who will be caught taking advantage of the absence of traffic officers from the roads to flout traffic regulations.
“We want motorists and other road users to go about their activities without unnecessary harassment from corrupt police officers. But let them know that we are closely monitoring what is happening on the roads and those caught flouting traffic regulations will pay a heavy price for committing the offences,” said Mr Yakub.
He said traffic officers will be deployed on the roads to respond to emergencies involving accidents and during crackdowns on defective vehicles.