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Saturday, 5 November 2011

Readers Weekly : Tackling Traffic Police Corruption

The Zambia Police Service in collaboration with the Road Transport and Safety Agency are planning to set up a new system for payment of fines for traffic offences in effort to curb corruption. According to Inspector-General of Police Martin Malama the aim is to “discourage the practice of paying money to police officers when a traffic offence has been committed”. How this will work in practice is not clear, but one idea he is considering is for erring motorists to be issued with tickets that can be paid at a bank.

Traffic police are widely regarded as the most corrupt element in the police force and tackling the scourge there would send a strong message that the police is being reformed. To delve deeper into this issue, we asked our readers via Facebook, website and email, whether the latest efforts would succeed and if there other ways that need to be explored. The following is a selected sample of “properly identified" responses:

Kondwani Gondwe :
Changing the method of payment is not the solution to stop traffic corruption. It appears like the Inspector General does not know the problem at hand. He should first carry out a survey and ask motorists (especially bus drivers) what the problem really is. Then the police can design a mechanism to curb the problem. The traffic police are taking advantage of the high charges which most motorist would rather not pay and the ignorance of the traffic law. Traffic police make up silly cases to pin offenders for their gain. In my opinion, traffic police are just out to make money and have very little to do with police work. We know that high ranking officer in the police force even set target per week to the patrol officers. Where is the corruption? Right inside the police force not on the road. Will changing the method of payment change anything? it is a good step but maybe in conjunction with other measures.
Chaila Nathir Kafusha : 
I think stopping corruption or reducing it at road traffic will be the hardest of all. I say this because we are technologicaly challenged and we cant use it (e.g cameras) . In this case, here are some of my ideas :
1.) I think what the Govt should work hand in hand with the community, the public and also motorist, introduce toll free numbers by RATSA (or police) for the community to report any corrupt cases,or suspicious deals going on between the motorists and the traffic police.
2.) The Govt should also provide a Union that will listen to motorists views..
3.) The Govt must also put in place measures that will enable the public becoming interested like rewards, free medical care, promotions to all those reporting the cases!
4.) Also the Govt should be rotating and transfer all Traffic Pølice every six months to other areas.
5.) One more thing, the Govt must also reduce the road traffic fines for the motorist to afford..
Isaac Mulongo :
Simply stop collecting cash on the street an offence committee should be subjected to court who will write the person asking to pay within two weeks failure to that the the fee will increase or face imprisonment as penalty. Actually these must be divided into two functions performed by two different institutions :
1) The council here I mean the local council where the car is registered
2)  the police which shall be in charge of controlling the high ways
There must be a central place say in Nyimba, Eastern Province where all drivers who committ offence the cases are sent. There is need to introduce a point system which will determine the safety of our roads. If you get 5 points for example due to over speeding your license is revoked for 1 year.
Jay Mat ‎
Then, you [are] suggesting members of the public are not corrupt? Police officers in fact rarely solicit. People do offer irresistable offers, given the vulnerability of cops. Besides, if a person breaks the traffic rule, why [would they not commit] corruption? Its sad. The best is for all of us to be morally upright. Solution: let the police stop impounding cars for erring motorists but instead give time frame to such motorist to discharge their indebtedness. Motorists are tempted to offer a bribe in order to buy freedom. But if freedom is guaranteed, it means they will have no reason of offering or accept to give a bribe.
Steven Putter 
I think a simple sms service should be used, where the network sends a receipt to the motorist's phone or any number the unfortunate person so chooses, and guarantees a lower rate than corruption, so if the cop ask K5000, then you sms for free and state the cops number, then you're free to go...
R. Henson :
It starts with drivers knowing their rights. Road traffic fines are actually in lieu of a court case. They are “Admission of Guilt” fines. In other words if you pay you have admitted that you are wrong.  To prevent being wrongly fined, read and know the traffic law and then don’t pay unless you know that you are wrong. If there is a disagreement between the driver and police as to the legality of the charge the case can go to court. Traffic police actually don’t want to go to court especially if the case is dubious. They just want you to pay. If the case is dubious and you refuse to pay and say ‘take me to court’ it usually ends there. Also the police must give you time to pay which gives you time to go and look up the law. They will threaten to impound the vehicle or seize driving licences or insurance documents to ensure your return but they have no right to do so.

Once I insisted on being shown the relevant law and when it proved me right, the police insisted there was a statutory instrument superseding it, but could not produce it, so I refused to pay. A vehicle can only be impounded if it is dangerous to drive (no brakes for instance) Otherwise once you have provided your name, ID number address and vehicle details you can go away with the vehicle and come back later to pay or refuse to pay. Many cases which are just bribe seeking harassment can be ended by taking out a paper and pen and asking politely for the officers’ name and number. If there is no genuine case it will then be hurriedly dropped without the name and number being given. In a small town, if you never pay bribes, the traffic officers fairly soon leave you alone.

1 comment:

  1. Adding on to the wonderful thoughts already shared by many, here is mine. One of the many things that could be considered in an effort to end Zambia Traffic Police corruption could be to computerize the whole payment system. One country I am aware of is Australia where police cars are computerized to read an on-coming car and detect all its faults. The police car can tell the speed you are traveling at, all the license and serial numbers of the driver and the vehicle, whether road license is valid or not, whether you are the driver licensed to drive that car or not, and so on and so forth. Once a fault is detected, the case is detected and recorded at the police station and the person is stopped, given a charge sheet and told to go pay at the police station. So you don't have a situation where the traffic police officer can get a bribe because the case is already recorded at the police station and the one at the controls will be expecting the offender to pull in and pay. Of course one can argue that the offender will then go connive with the officer at the controls, but then these are computerized entries which one can not easily alter because they are protected like in pdf or another format. Such a level of development is not too far fetched, we can attain it; it just takes a start and we will eventually catch it. That way, we will slowly but surely nip the flower in the bud. I know there are many progressive ideas out there, just keep this chat board open and ideas will keep flowing. We can do it.

    By the way, the Vice President, Mr Guy Scott did us proud here in Australia during the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting. It was so thrilling to see him sit next to the Australian Prime Minister and hear him blow his trumpet oabout his conviction of where the new Government wants to take Zambia to. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Let us give the team all the ideas they need, after all we will be the beneficiaries at the end of the day. Tu ba fundeko baka yonabwile abene.


    Robert Mukwiza Sakutaha (Uncle Bob)
    Kafue(but briefly in Australia).


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