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'MONEY-MINTING TOLLS'

Only four police roadblocks in Nyanza gazetted, says regional boss

Human rights activists and motorists have accused police of mounting many roadblocks meant for extortion.

In Summary

• Regional coordinator Magu says roadblocks only mounted at the borders of Migori, Busia, Kericho and Kakamega to control the movement of people and goods.

• He said the four are recognised by Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai.

Nyanza regional coordinator Magu Mutindika, regional police commander Lydia Ligame and Kisumu county police commander Ranson Lolmodooni at Kisumu Central police station on Monday.
Nyanza regional coordinator Magu Mutindika, regional police commander Lydia Ligame and Kisumu county police commander Ranson Lolmodooni at Kisumu Central police station on Monday.
Image: MAURICE ALAL

Nyanza regional coordinator Magu Mutindika has denied claims of numerous police roadblocks in the region meant for extortion.

He said only four roadblocks at the borders of Migori, Busia, Kericho and Kakamega are gazetted to control the movement of people and goods. He said the four are recognised by Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai.

 

Magu, accompanied by regional police commander Lydia Ligame, spoke at Kisumu Central police station where he launched a fumigation exercise. Also present were Kisumu county commissioner Josephine Ouko, county police commander Ranson Lolmodooni and the county security team.

There has been a public uproar that police have mounted many roadblocks in Kisumu, Nyamira, Migori, Siaya, Homa Bay and Kisii counties, thereby hindering movement. 

Human rights groups, motorists and residents lamented that the roadblocks on the highways had been turned into money-minting tolls.

“We are tired of extortion. We don’t see such in Central, Eastern, Rift Valley and Western,” a conductor said on condition of anonymity.

He said cartels behind the roadblocks were killing Nyanza residents economically and called for urgent action.

Transform Empowerment for Action Initiative executive director George Owuor said many roadblocks have been mounted.

“Illegal police roadblocks are all over as early as 6am. They are meant for collecting money,” he said.

Owuor said traffic officers have turned Nyanza region into a "police state", adding that they fleece residents of their hard-earned money.

 

“I want to challenge Magu to board a public vehicle from Kisumu to Migori and count the police roadblocks. He will be shocked. Then he can make a press statement,” he said.

He cited Katito-Homa Bay, Kisumu- Ahero, Kisii-Migori, Kisumu-Siaya, Kisumu-Bondo routes as the major areas where roadblocks are. He called for the transfer of junior officers who have overstayed in the region. They are the ones collecting money, Owuor added.

“They have got used to locals. Some are running businesses in Kisumu. That is why most tuk tuks at the bus park are owned by them. They are untouchable,” he said.

But the regional administrator urged residents to report to him the illegal roadblocks for swift action. He, however, said temporary roadblocks might be erected for security reasons, especially now that the country is fighting Covid-19.

He directed traffic officers to restore order on the roads and cautioned residents against boarding vehicles that are full.

On the Kisumu-Kakamega highway, matatu operate recklessly, ignoring the yellow line on the dual carriageway and posing risk to other road users.

“We have cases where matatu operators are carrying more than eight passengers. Such must stop immediately,” Magu said.

He appealed to residents to strictly adhere to Covid-19 protocols, adding that the fumigation exercise will be carried out in all the police stations in the region to curb the spread of virus.

Magu will launch a similar exercise in Nyamira county on Wednesday.

Ligame shared similar sentiments on coronavirus containment, urging residents to mask, wash hands, and avoid gatherings.

“The disease is real. Anyone can be infected. It is a collective responsibility of Kenyans to be safe and healthy,” she said.