BRIBERY CLAIMS

Commuters protest roadblocks in Lamu despite NPS ban

County commissioner says help manage security, avert terror attacks

In Summary
  • There are also at least four roadblocks between the Mokowe Depot in Lamu County and the Minjila Junction in Tana River County located at Ndeu, Witu, Gamba and Itsowe areas.
  • These checkpoints are guarded by both police and Kenya Defense Forces-KDF soldiers.
A convoy of buses on the Lamu-Garsen road.
A convoy of buses on the Lamu-Garsen road.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES
A convoy of buses on the Lamu-Garsen road.
A convoy of buses on the Lamu-Garsen road.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

Commuters in Lamu have protested the presence of police roadblocks in the county despite a recent ban by the National Police Service.

A recent traffic management meeting attended by Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai, Deputy Inspector General Police Edward Mbugua and traffic commanders resolved that the roadblocks and static police checks removed owing to numerous complaints over traffic officers’ collection of bribes from motorists.

The over four roadblocks on the Lamu-Garsen road have remained in place despite the directive with county commissioner Irungu Macharia swearing that no roadblock will be removed as they help manage security escorts on the road.

Speaking on Wednesday, Macharia, who chairs the county security committee, said it would be premature to lift the roadblocks in the region as the road forms part of a security operation zone where the Linda Boni security operation is being undertaken to hunt down al Shabaab militants since 2015.

“We are yet to seek further engagement on the matter from the NPS but as far as I know, travel arrangements on this road will remain unchanged. Not one roadblock will be removed as they are part of the greater county security strategy here,” Macharia said.

For over eight years now, commuters on the road have been subjected to extreme travel restrictions including a mandatory requirement for all PSVs to move in a single convoy escorted by armed police.

There are also at least four roadblocks between the Mokowe Depot in Lamu county and the Minjila Junction in Tana River county at Ndeu, Witu, Gamba and Itsowe areas.

These checkpoints are guarded by both police and KDF soldiers.

Passengers have to alight at every stop with their luggage for checks.

Lamu elder Ali Shebwana accused police of turning the roadblocks into cash-minting stations instead of doing their security work.

“Those manning the roadblocks concentrate more on collecting bribes from motorists than on security checks.  You part with Sh100 or Sh150 and you are allowed to pass without being checked,” Shebwana said.

Munawar Shuttle transport manager in charge of Lamu route Mubarak Sheikh Mohamed said they were tired of being extorted by security officers on the road.

“We want to laud the KDF soldiers as they never collect bribes and do their job well but the police are there to extort,” he said.

He says a driver travelling from Malindi to Lamu must have not less than Sh1,000 in bribe money to be able to pass through the various roadblocks.

“The money goes up or down depending on the status of the roadblock and the number of officers manning it,” Mohamed said.

Tawakal bus company conductor Said Swaleh however says the roadblocks have helped eradicate terror attacks on the road.

“They are important. They only have to reduce time spent at each roadblock otherwise, let them be,” he said.

-Edited by SKanyara

A convoy of buses on the Lamu-Garsen road.
A convoy of buses on the Lamu-Garsen road.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES