Radical law to tame rogue traffic cops

Bill seeks pocketless uniforms, CCTV at traffic stops and wealth declaration by police

In Summary

• Traffic police officers would also be compelled to declare their wealth before the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

• The law proposes that the declaration be submitted every three months.

A police cap.
A police cap.
Image: FILE

Tough times await bribe-thirsty traffic police officers should a proposed law seeking to nip in the bud the vice sail through in Parliament. 

MPs are considering a law, which among others, seeks to confine the operations of traffic officers to designated areas where they will be under constant surveillance.

The Bribery Bill, 2024, sponsored by nominated MP Obadiah Barongo,  is before the National Assembly Administration and Internal Affairs Committee. It proposes the designated areas be under CCTV surveillance.

“The Inspector General shall zone all areas that traffic police officers are designated and coordinate the installation of CCTV cameras in all areas that traffic police are situated,” the legislative proposal reads.

“The Inspector General shall ensure the CCTV cameras at designated traffic areas are maintained.” 

In the bid, Barongo wants the IG compelled by law to take action against an officer accepting a bribe in uniform when actively engaged on duty in a public place.

“A police officer who attends to an area not within the designated traffic area commits an offence,” the draft Bribery Bill reads.

Among the radical proposals in the draft law is that police officers be assigned uniforms that have no pockets.

“The principal object of this Bill is to provide for anti-bribery measures for the National Police Service, through the establishment of designated traffic zones with equipment and standards of uniform to enforce the same,” Barongo said.

Traffic police officers will also be compelled to declare their wealth before the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) every three months.

“All officers designated to designated areas shall submit quarterly wealth declaration reports to the EACC,” the Bill reads.

This week, a traffic police officer was suspended after being caught on camera allegedly collecting bribes from motorists.

Police said in a statement the officer was being processed for dismissal. 

Anti-graft czars have for years decried rampant bribery in the ranks and file of the police service – citing the traffic department as the most notorious.

EACC detectives have on numerous swoops targeting roadblocks and busted traffic cops with wads of notes believed to be collected from motorists.

Kenyans on social media have also highlighted instances and taken videos of officers suspected to be taking bribes at various traffic stops.

In a recent bribery indices report by the EACC, police – both regular and traffic - topped those perceived as most prone to graft and unethical practices – at 60.6 per cent prevalence.

It showed that a traffic police is likely to ask for a bribe three times more than their counterparts at the Administration Police.

The 2023 National Ethics and Corruption Survey further cited the National Transport and Safety Authority, which has a central role in enforcing traffic rules, as yet another bribery hotspot.

To reduce graft cases, the proposed dispensation is that officers from the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) shall be seconded to the designated traffic areas.

The IPOA officers will also monitor the activities of officers manning the traffic stops discretely “in any other area designated by the authority”.

“A designated officer shall investigate collection of bribes within the designated traffic area, submit a report to the authority on compliance, and report investigations conducted by the officer on bribery at the designated traffic zone,” the Bill reads.

Also proposed is a multi-agency command centre where the CCTV footage from the designated areas will be collected.

“The multi-agency command centre shall ensure that CCTV cameras at designated traffic areas relay real time information to a command centre,” the proposal adds.

The command centre shall comprise 10 officers from the National Police Service nominated by the IG and IPOA, it says.

Command centre officers, Barongo proposes, should hold a bachelor's degree in a cybersecurity or computer science-related field.

The command centre shall be tasked with implementing measures for the physical security of the footage and software of the CCTV cameras.

Centres will also be required to limit access to the information, maintain the CCTV cameras and exercise administrative control over persons having access to the footage.

Committee session chairperson Dido Rasso (Saku MP) said the team will study the laws and propose amendments where necessary.

A separate House committee recently decried that roadblocks were stifling trade in the region.

The Regional Integration Committee of the National Assembly recommended to the Interior ministry to have the roadblocks removed along the Northern Corridor.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki said the government is keen on security roadblocks to ward off terror threats emanating from within and outside the country’s borders.

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