Between November 2014 and March, this year, at least 314 police officers have been moved from the traffic department for allegedly soliciting bribes from motorists.
The director of Traffic and Road Safety, Dr Steven Kasiima, confirmed the corrupt traffic officials were reassigned to other departments after misconduct was proven.
“They were charged in the police disciplinary court which confirmed that they solicited bribes. They were arrested by the Alert Fraud Squad, which was set up in November last year to rid the department of corruption following numerous complaints from the public about corrupt traffic officers,” he said in an interview on April 8 at the Central police station, Kampala.
He warned the crackdown was still ongoing.
“We are hunting for unprofessional traffic officers. We have charged them under the disciplinary court since motorists are not willing to testify in court. They were acting in a manner that jeopardizes their work and we have evidence from the alert fraud squad,” he said.
Kasiima declined to name the affected officers but said most of them are at the rank of superintendent of police (SPs), assistant superintendent of police (ASPs), inspector of vehicles (IOV), officers in charge of police stations (OCs), assistant inspector of vehicles (AIV), sergeants, corporals and others.
He said since the crackdown started, revenue collection from penalties for traffic offenders like drink-driving and driving vehicles in dangerous mechanical condition (DMCs) had risen from Shs 200m to Shs 800m per month.
“This is because the traffic officers now fear to take bribes and issue the express penalty tickets to traffic defaulters. We are now aiming at having quality traffic officers [instead of simply having many] who are corrupt. We are now few officers but issuing out more tickets than before.”
In his speech during police centenary celebrations last October, President Museveni called for action against corruption in the police’s traffic department. Kasiima outlined the police plan of action against the vice, centred on monitoring traffic officers in the field and arresting corrupt ones.
Kasiima said police has issued stickers with traffic messages about drivers’ rights and also introduced toll-free lines to report corrupt officers, which include: 0718357497 and 0800199099.
Last November, police chief Kale Kayihura ordered all traffic police officers off highways following complaints of extortion. Police also ordered the removal of all traffic roadblocks on all highways.
The Uganda Police Force has been ranked the most corrupt institution in the country by various corruption-rating agencies. It is also among the top corrupt institutions in the East African region, according to Transparency International and Inspectorate General of Government reports.
Source : The Observer