- In 2022, the National Transport and Safety Authority reported that at least 21,760 people were involved in road accidents with 4,690 fatalities.
- It cannot be denied that police corruption may have significantly contributed to these deaths.
Debate on corruption among police officers has in recent months gained considerable momentum.
Recently, in September, at a forum organized by Head of Public Service, Felix Koskei, Inspector General of Police, IG Japhet Koome admitted corruption was rife in the National Police Service.
He ironically recounted how junior officers once came to his office to share with him the money extorted from the public.
In the National Ethics and Corruption Survey released by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in December 2022, the National Police Service was ranked as the most corrupt Government Department at 82.1%.
Recently, EACC reported that in the last five years, 2018-2023, it received and processed 4,041 reports relating to the National Police Service out of which 2,481 were on bribery, with 90% of the same involving traffic police officers.
Like many Kenyans, I have been a victim of police bribery schemes at traffic stops.
It is impossible to forget the 2021 story of a junior traffic Police Officer, stationed along the Thika-Garissa Highway who forfeited a colossal amount of Sh26 million illegally acquired from bribes back to the Government, through an Alternative Dispute Resolution.
In 2022, the National Transport and Safety Authority reported that at least 21,760 people were involved in road accidents with 4,690 fatalities.
It cannot be denied that police corruption may have significantly contributed to these deaths.
Perhaps, these could have been averted if there was no corruption on the roads.
The foregoing state of affairs points to a sorry state of moral decay and a deeply entrenched culture of police corruption in the country, which is more prominent in the Traffic Department.
Without a doubt, police corruption in Kenya has permeated the entire police system and is manifest in nearly all police operations.
Although some commentators have viewed police corruption as too petty to warrant serious investment of resources and effort by enforcement and oversight bodies, what is largely untold is the gross and painful nature of the consequences of graft among police officers.
If the police receive bribes to drop criminal charges against persons accused of heinous crimes, this obstructs justice.
If a police officer receives Sh50 bribe to allow an overloaded and roadworthy vehicle to continue operating, this may lead to the loss of the lives of innocent citizens.
On our roads, what was once known as bribery on the roads has since graduated to police extortion, with most roadblocks operating as police toll stations.
The troubling questions, therefore, are: how many police officers with integrity deficits are on the loose and defrauding unsuspecting members of the public?
Who is to blame for the apparent collapse of integrity in Kenya’s police operations?
What more, beyond the arrests by EACC, needs to be done, and by whom?
Kenya has, times without number, been on the spot for alleged illegal drug trade routes.
This could be attributed to the increase in local drug consumption which fuels crime and public health concerns.
In his research paper at the Air University, Col. Peter Githinji observed that rampant corruption in the National Police Service threatened the security in Kenya.
He said the impact of endemic corruption in the Police Service led to elevated levels of crime, terrorism, and police brutality.
In an example, Col. Githinji noted that crime suspects or their families offered huge sums of money to bribe police officers hence compromising investigations which often meant suspects were released prior to being charged before the courts of law.
Crime in Kenya will only get worse if corruption within the National Police Service is not sufficiently addressed.
It was therefore a step in the right direction when the Head of Public Service, Felix Koskei convened a consultative meeting with Senior Police Officers at the Kenya School of Government last month to address the scourge of Corruption.
As part of clean-up measures, I hope stringent administrative measures will be put in place to effectively tackle the challenge of police corruption.
In a recent media interview, EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak opined that automation of traffic management in Kenya is long overdue.
He also cited culture change among the citizenry as a viable strategy in the quest to extinguish the torch of police corruption in our motherland.
There is a need to severely punish police officers engaging in corruption because when they go scot-free for such vile acts, there is no deterrence.
Police corruption has become a major obstacle to justice and national efforts to end crime.
On the roads, it has become a national shame.
If urgent and decisive reform measures are not taken, the vice may soon erode the great things that Kenya is globally acclaimed for.
The writer is a Communications Professional